The Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) has provided extra resources to ensure children in communities and town camps have access to a good education.
There are an estimated 10,000 school-aged children in communities affected by the NTER. Of these, up to 2000 school-aged students are not enrolled and an estimated 2500 students are not attending school regularly enough to benefit from their education.
The Australian Government is committed to providing quality educational opportunities for Indigenous students, to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous educational outcomes. This is a key goal of the Education Revolution.
As part of its Closing the Gap commitments, the Government is working to:
- halve the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students in reading, writing and numeracy benchmark achievement within the next decade
- halve the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students attaining year 12 or equivalent
- provide all Indigenous four year olds in remote communities with access to a proper early childhood education program within five years.
The Australian Government is providing $98.8m for an additional 200 teachers for remote schools in the Northern Territory over five years, to help educate the about 2000 young people not enrolled. Funding is being made available for 50 new teachers each calendar year over 2008-2011.
Teachers are being deployed by NT education providers to remote schools where the need is greatest. Twenty-two additional teachers have been recruited to date and placed in remote communities. A further 23 new teachers began an intensive pre-placement training program in November 2008. This brings the total number of teachers employed under this measure in 2008 to 45.
Capital funds are being provided to build more classrooms to help cope with classroom pressures. At least 10 schools in prescribed areas had an average student attendance that exceeded available classroom capacity, with classroom pressures emerging in further schools.
In 2007-08 the Australian Government allocated $6 million to the Northern Territory Government and $1.7 million to the Catholic Education Office for additional classrooms. A total of 20 classrooms are under construction and will be operational in Term 1 2009.
The Australian Government has allocated a further $2.6 million for six classrooms over 2008-09 to alleviate the anticipated pressures on school infrastructure as a result of increased enrolment and attendance.
Under the $4.854 million Accelerated Literacy initiative, regionally based specialist teams are working with 45 remote community schools to provide professional development to teachers on site and in context over the 2008 school year.
The Australian Government has also invested $3.854 million to establish a Quality Teaching Package. Developing and training local Indigenous teaching staff is a major focus of the package.
The Australian Government is also committed to building three new boarding facilities in the Territory, the first to open in 2009 and the others in 2010. These will accommodate students from years 8 to 12 and help to give young people from remote areas access to a secondary education. The colleges will be linked to major sources of employment in each region and provide pastoral care and support to students and their families.
To improve school attendance, a School Nutrition Program is being rolled out in NTER communities, providing breakfast and/or lunch to school-aged children.
At November 2008, students attending school in 69 communities and 10 town camp regions are being provided with a meal. Parents are encouraged to contribute to the costs of meals through income management. The program also provides job opportunities and training for local community members.
For more information on any of these measures, visit the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations website.