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Stop focusing on ‘the problem’ in Indigenous education, and start looking at learning opportunities

Elizabeth McKinley writes in The Conversation (9.2.17) about how focusing on the “opportunity to learn gap” confronting Indigenous school communities removes the emphasis from locating “the problem” in the person, and turns our attention to the differences in access to educational resources.

‘Much attention in Australian Indigenous education is paid to the “achievement gap” and not nearly enough is paid to the “opportunity to learn gap” – this refers to the subject content students are exposed to in school.

‘Debates focusing on the achievement gap, where in 2014 only 59% of Indigenous students complete Year 12 or equivalent compared with 85% of their non-Indigenous counterparts, tend to place an emphasis on contextual factors such as the role of poverty or socioeconomic status as an explanation of lower educational achievement.

‘In the wider public, this can spiral quickly into blaming students and families, or gives schools and teachers permission to find some comfort in the status quo.’

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