50 Years of Bilingual programs in NT communities

Presenters: Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr, Tarna Andrews, Gwen Warmbirrirr,
Elizabeth Milmilany, Daisy Baṉḏaka Goṉḏarra, Valerie Bulkunu , Kirsten Egan

Senior and emerging Yolngu, Anangu and Yapa Educators share about 50 years of Bilingual Education in their communities.  The first Northern Territory Bilingual programs were introduced into remote community schools in 1973. They were responding to the fact that in these communities, daily life was conducted in Indigenous languages and that these were the languages that children learnt first and brought with them to school. They also acknowledged that these children should learn English. - The presenters represent bilingual schools that have continued operating since being established in 1973 and 1974. - They will each share from their own experience their communities' journeys, including aspirations, achievements and challenges over the last 50 years. They will talk about what collaboration between community elders and educators has achieved, e.g., vision statements formalizing what elders visualized for the school establishing a school culture shaped by local ways of doing which values and respects all who are involved and developing strong curriculum through which students will develop skills, hope and vision for their own futures in the contemporary world. They will share challenges they have faced, e.g. questions about English language literacy if the means of providing it leads to a loss of cultural identity and how communities have insisted on having a say in how their children are educated, often defying shifting government policies. There is much to celebrate.