In the city of Adelaide, Andrew Blasto, a scion of the Camilaroy community, decided to establish his own school, based on indigenous teaching methods and open to all. After spending more than 15 years in the public school system as a principal, he chose to put his culture in favor of education.
The general discipline became very focused on English and mathematics. Of course, it is important to learn them. But it was at the expense of everything else… creativity and the arts. One of the things we wanted to do differently was teach through culture, rather than just teach culture. We also wanted to restore independence to students.
Ngutu College is in its second year of operation and has approximately 40% of First Nations students. Therefore, indigenous and non-indigenous youth are learning together. Priceless fortune according to the director.
Learning with indigenous students, and demystifying the idea of indigenous peoples, helps to break down some of the myths and stereotypes that exist. It will be of great value for the future. And it’s not just going to be from college, it’s the starting point. And if we can then influence other schools to follow a similar path, we will have a real opportunity to give Aboriginal people a voice, with the support of the dominant culture, says Andrew Blastow.
At Ngutu College, everything is designed to promote inclusion. For example, toilets are gender-neutral throughout the facility. The older classes are next to the younger ones to promote the exchange of knowledge. The teachers’ area is designed to be easily accessible to students. A garden has also been set up in the inner courtyard so young people can go and recharge their batteries when needed.
Whites and (Aborigines) in Australia
25.5 million Australians (812,000 Indigenous)
infant mortality rate
3 per 1,000 births (5.4 per 1,000)
the hope of life
81.2 years for men (71.6 years)
85.3 years for women (75.6 years)
source : Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 / Gap Closing Report 2020
The school currently welcomes young people from 4 to 14 years old. Students of course learn core subjects such as mathematics and English, but also other subjects such as robotics, art, music, and indigenous languages. And at this school, we teach Australian history, including the Aboriginal past. Andrew Blastow lamented that in traditional public schools, the taught Australian history began with the arrival of European settlers, while indigenous peoples occupied the territory for tens of thousands of years.
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