If life wasn’t meant to be easy was it meant to be this hard?
At Wadeye – formerly Port Keats in the Territory’s remote south west – a record seven Indigenous girls from the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Thamarrurr Catholic School finished Year 12 and graduated with in 2005. The Territory’s four remote community education centres produced 25 graduates in 2005.
There are two accounts of the undeniably magnificent achievement by the Wadeye girls.
1) A NT EDUCATION MINISTER MEDIA RELEASE (PDF) quotes Minister Syd Stirling congratulating the hardworking girls and their dedicated teachers, saying, “These seven students have overcome many obstacles to complete year 12 and they are now role models for their community and for all indigenous students.”
2) THE NATIONAL INDIGENOUS TIMES (NIT) “Wadeye: the forgotten face of government underspending” tells the story of a school population of nearly 1000, 300 of secondary school age. The Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School is a primary school, which does the best it can. The Year 12 students did their studies by correspondence.
NIT claims that in 2005, in response to governments urging parents to get their kids to class, there was a massive push by the local community and around 600 turned up to school for week one. Promised desks and teachers did not materialise and the year finished with less than 100 students attending school. This year student numbers are around 300.
The Catholic Aboriginal School at Wadeye is bilingual. Bilingual education was introduced in 1976 and first accredited in 1985. The students ranging from 4 to 19 years, are taught in Murrinpatha and English. Aboriginal teachers in ‘Early Childhood’, have been trained through the Remote Aboriginal Teacher Education (RATE) program.
FOR MORE INFO CONTACT – Michelle Fraser M: 0407 642 011 T:08 8901 4010
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic School Co-Principal, Ann Rebgetz,
T: 08 8978 2477.