The status and future of bilingual education for remote Indigenous students in the Northern Territory

Brian Devlin

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    Abstract

    This article analyses the status and future of bilingual education programs using Indigenous languages and English in remote Northern Territory schools. It explains why this educational approach is so contested at present, resulting in an unresolved situation which can best be regarded as anuneasy compromise on the ground and a stalemate at higher levels of political decision making. If the bilingual education approach was better understood by the current NT Government, there would a strong impetus now to refine and effectively implement a model of schooling that is appropriate for students in remote areas. Instead, current politicians debunk the bilingual approach, thereby robbing schools and literacy plans of any momentum and distracting attention away from the work that needs to be done. Meanwhile, student attendance rates have fallen away to worryingly low levels (Dickson, 2010). The current regime may well resolve the impasse, but in the absence of any meaningful, open negotiation the future looks uncertain. It is too soon to judge the cost of this uncertainty, but it may well result in further alienation and the emergence of non-government alternatives.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)260-279
    Number of pages20
    JournalAustralian Review of Applied Linguistics
    Volume34
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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