Educator Chris Bonnor comments in The Guardian (19.2.18) on the obstacles facing Indigenous students, suggesting that layers are being created within and between Indigenous communities, making closing the gap in educational achievement ever more difficult.
‘We are now into the tenth anniversary of the strategy to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia. Last week saw a report on progress, a subdued celebration on scattered achievements and copious hand-wringing over endemic failures.
‘It seems that amongst the Closing the Gap target areas it is school education where some celebration is justified – with some gains in numeracy, reading and school retention. There is still a long way to go but any progress will be a welcome boost for schools more used to wearing all the blame for low levels of student achievement.
‘Indigenous education has more than its share of set-backs but we also hear about heroic efforts by teachers to turn the numbers around. The work done by Chris Sarra and the Stronger Smarter Institute is deservedly well-known. Many schools are stand-outs and new learning designs are challenging what schools should do, and what success should really look like.
‘But alongside our efforts to close the gap our school system operates in a way which keeps it as wide as ever, in the process almost mocking efforts at the school level. Most concerning is how we are consigning most Indigenous students, especially the strugglers, to the schools with the least capacity to address their pre-existing disadvantage.’