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Impact of Low Literacy Rate Among Indigenous Students in Australia

Introduction to Literacy Among Indigenous People

Australia has two types of the population that is Indigenous and non-Indigenous population. The indigenous population is the deprived group because of low socioeconomic status, low literacy rates, and people with a minimum standard of living. The major tension that is prevalent today in Australia is the range of educational policies for Aboriginals and Torres Strait islanders. It is due to low literacy rates among Aboriginal students is lower in the isolated populations. They are distinguished from other groups due to different cultural practices consisting of non-material and custodial attitudes towards land and other resources (Kral, 2018). Various policies have been developed to include the reasons for the low literacy rates of the parents and inadequate school turnout. In this study, the primary focus will be upon the implementation of policies and gaps that have to be articulated within the policy. They include ramifications and intricacies of the policy that have to be addressed in the policy implementation process for the scope of resource commitment to the policy (Crengle, Luke & Lambert et al., 2018). Hence, the significant elements will be outlined with the circumstances and characteristics of Indigenous people. There are different reasons for diversity in experiences at national, regional, and local context. The mechanisms will be looked upon to produce this exclusion from education and literacy.

Indigenous people are the disadvantaged groups that inhabited a territory before the formation of the present state. They are defined by the characteristics that help in relating Indigenous groups of people in a particular area than those from other groups of people. Tribal community or Indigenous people are the fundamentals to classify marginalized or ethnic groups (Rheault, Coyer & Jones et al., 2019). Indigenous people face many barriers in attaining education and literacy as compared to non-Indigenous people in the mainstream of society. In 2018, most Year 5 students achieved at or above the national minimum standard for reading (95%) and numeracy (96%). Around 19,400 (0.4%) children aged 0–14 were homeless on Census night in 2016, similar to 2006 (0.5%). n 2017–18, 4.4% children aged 5–14 ate enough vegetables, only a slight increase from 2014–15 (2.9%). Between 2011 and 2017, the proportion of mothers smoking during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy fell from 13% to 9.5%. In the span of five years, it was observed that 4 percentage of students achieved minimum standards of reading. Thw figure of boys increased from 478.4 to 505.1. However, in girls it increased from 490.7 to 513.7 (Fogarty, Riddle & Lovell et al., 2018). Closing the gap in literacy and numeracy national minimum standard achievement rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children was a key priority of the Closing the Gap framework established by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2018. In 2018, 77.2% of Indigenous Year 5 students achieved the national minimum standard for reading, and 81.4% for numeracy. At least 40 per cent, and up to 85 per cent, of Indigenous people aged 15 have low literacy. Reasons for not getting equal access to education is the isolation that is very common for Aboriginal Australian communities in the societies. The structures and programs of education are well known to low standards and hence resulted in Indigenous adults being illiterate (Fogarty, Riddle & Lovell et al., 2018). Western education has very little meaning for Indigenous people that results in high dropout rates. The education system fails in meeting the curriculum and teaching methodologies as it presents the world view by not recognizing the needs, preferences, attitudes, and working of Indigenous communities. There is a great difference found between Indigenous school and home cultures, who remain there with the fact of hunting and gathering of social organizations (Ju, Brennan & Parker et al., 2017). Differences include variation in the quality of knowledge, learning and teaching methods, social values, and learning methods. The modern education system has privileges in academic knowledge and traditional knowledge and skills. Hence, this has led to rising concerns with the negative impacts of modern education on their communities.

Barriers in education also include personal barriers for Indigenous communities in achieving literacy that is very difficult for them to attain. Stigma is associated with low literacy levels in terms of attracting learners in education programs (Smith, Merlino & Christie et al., 2020). Indigenous people are not motivated to attain education; hence, their families do not support their children in getting educated. Emotional, spiritual, and physical barriers are related to dysfunction and hindrance within society. A lack of self-confidence and self-esteem have underutilized the skills of students in doing better than before. The literacy rates are very low in Aboriginals because they have affected and complex structures on adult learners (Macqueen, Knoch & Wigglesworth et al., 2019). Parents of the children know very little without knowledge and numerical skills in giving children a low-literate home-based environment. If the students were have raised in missions, they were expected to get educated and know reading and writing. The parents of Indigenous people struggle in supporting their children to form a cycle of literacy. A western education ethos is not suitable for Aboriginal people because the education systems are popular with teachers and the local society that happens outside the classroom and influences learners. Aboriginals are known as stolen inventions and have left parents deeply distrustful of Western institutions including schools (Rice, Haynes & Royce et al., 2016). So, they simply refuse to enroll their children in schools to attain education. From the data of 2008, it was found that around 20 percent of compulsory school-age children did not enroll in school to get regular education. Aboriginal people are often shy and ashamed to go back to school. This could only happen if they see their peers going to school and getting success in their careers. Hence, these types of systems prove that the Australian public education system can never be a success so that it benefits other citizens (Merlino, Smith & Adams et al., 2020).

Specific programs have been started to improve literacy levels of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders such as the Literacy for Life Foundation is the Aboriginal run charity program run by UNESCO-approved, Cuban developed model highly designed for Aboriginal communities. The training is given to local people by giving literacy classes in their communities (Schwab, 2018). Show Me The Way is another policy launched in the year 2010 to create a national online networking program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Schwab, 2018). Accelerated Literacy Program was developed by the Professor at Charles Darwin University in Alice Springs (Schwab, 2018). The program developed by him offers literacy development for students so that every student of the same age could get equal access to education and knowledge. Students are given tasks based on their abilities so that skillful teacher can enhance their skills more and solve their work (Schwab, 2018). This program got success as in a school of 400 students 41 percent were more than 18 months behind their age of reading level. After 12 months the accelerated policy helped an increase of individuals by a minimum of 1.6 years. The largest gain that the policy gained was of 2.8 years from students. Indigenous literacy foundation was launched in 2009 to provide access to books and library sources to over 200 remote Aboriginal communities in Northern Territory, Queensland (Smylie, O’Brien & Xavier et al., 2018). The foundation was built to t improve cultural literacy by connecting with young people for their traditions and culture. The practical literacy given by the country helped in developing skills that are necessary for daily life activities. The introduction of English literacy programs helped in promoting reading, writing, and speaking skills of Aboriginal children. Several books were introduced by the policy so that rural Aboriginal children could know how to read, write, and speak language and content. This was the system that gained success in community building and enhancement through education (Zubrick, Taylor & Christensen, 2015).

However, the current education policy that concerns the Aboriginals and Torres Islanders community is subjected to highlight the policies and procedures that have to be followed in the education system. Federal education policies, strategies, and agendas have been implemented and developed so that state education can be accessed by Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people. Governments have recognized the slow process for Indigenous education and affairs for the preference of little gain (Halafoff, Singleton & Bouma et al., 2020). These policies have intended to bridge the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous people. The failures of policy have been said by the government is due to systematic underachievement. Hence, the plan exemplifies responsibility for systematic underachievement by emphasizing programs by the administration and organizations such as Education Council. Moreover, this reflects the commitment of the government towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to establish fundamental and pioneering forms in early childhood and schooling to outline the difference between State and territory government and the Australian government (Kral & Schwab, 2016). School architecture is built by the Australian education system that shows political and social involvement within the education system to provide Indigenous Australian students a good education (Webb & Williams, 2018).

The gap between the system is identified by the government and has meant that this has a major impact in closing by the government and its agencies. The domains provide actions and strategies that affect student educational attainment. The factors are such as the influence of expansionism including intergenerational disturbance, deficiency, social issues including deprived presence, socio-economic position, self-willpower for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the sustainability of backing for improvement, and past attempts at educational “reforms” including assimilation that impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student educational outcomes (McKenzie, Dell & Fornssler, 2016). The factors demonstrate that these have a great influence on learning, education, and achievement in school along with health, economies, and wellbeing. The cultural and social issues have the influence or hindrance that exaggerates Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders. This reflects that learning results are inspired by cultural, constitutional, historical, and societal considerations (Godrich, Davies & Darby et al., 2018).

Historical challenges faced by Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders is the greatest disadvantage to these people. The term power elite is dominant in the organizations that have duties in federal and state structures with agencies that work for the Education system and council. In the Australian context, the colonist education system justifies assimilation that has harmful impacts on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The government formed policies after implementing the systems in addressing inequalities in respective countries (Schultz, Abbott & Yamaguchi et al., 2019). The reformation demonstrates the interconnection between political and historical influences on education. This means that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were observed on beliefs, languages, customs, and cultures. The integration of the schooling system has the enactment of properties and reformations that are to be levied on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The argument was made by certain committees that there is no relationship between boarding schools versus community schools for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Wilson, Quinn & Abbott et al., 2018). This presented that some activists said that Indigenous students should be sent to community schools only so that there is no cultural and educational loss. This debate draws the historical context of student’s commitment within the school atmosphere.

Within the constitutional context, the involvement of government is needed to detail disharmony in the education system of the country. There is a strong sense of disharmony observed with the funding system that ultimately moves the managing of learning institutions for the usage of its finances. After a long time, centralists moved towards the management of education in recent years. Initiatives, policies, and agencies from federal and state have joined to improve and address equality in education between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Johnson, 2016). The labor governments sought to address disparities in the education system for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The gap has been addressed in the education system by sealing the gap plan and underscoring the significance of tackling the goals by establishing deadlines. The gap agenda has been taken to the vanguard of policy discovery discrimination of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students with the achievement of wellbeing, teaching, and health (Johnson, 2016).

The current challenges also include the growing number of Indigenous populations in the gave group within 24 years. The policies have been implied and gained somehow success with an effective implementation system. This has helped in addressing issues of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in terms of the health and education of students. The system could be improved with fair government involvement and equal distribution of resources. However, cultural, historical, social, and political influences have to be managed for effective policy implementation (Johnson, 2016).

Conclusion on Literacy Among Indigenous People

The targets, outcomes, and performance are the major requirement to address this issue of culturalism and racism between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. Political power has seen in the essay that it has a great influence on addressing the gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous population education. Disengagement of students and non-attending due to various reasons should be addressed in the policies for effective implementation and outcomes. The distinction and motivation in schemes should be developed in policies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders' children engagement. Enthusiastic mechanisms are needed to address the gaps and improvements in policies. Hence, this will help in reducing inequality and the impact of other factors such as culture, social, economic status, and political. Hence, the significant elements have been outlined with the circumstances and characteristics of Indigenous people. There are different reasons for diversity in experiences at national, regional, and local context. The mechanisms are looked upon to produce this exclusion from education and literacy. 

References for Literacy Among Indigenous People

Crengle, S., Luke, J. N., Lambert, M., Smylie, J. K., Reid, S., Harré-Hindmarsh, J., & Kelaher, M. (2018). Effect of a health literacy intervention trial on knowledge about cardiovascular disease medications among Indigenous peoples in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. BMJ Open8(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-018569

Fogarty, W., Riddle, S., Lovell, M., & Wilson, B. (2018). Indigenous education and literacy policy in Australia: Bringing learning back to the debate. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education47(2), 185-197. https://doi.org/10.1017/jie.2017.18

Godrich, S. L., Davies, C. R., Darby, J., & Devine, A. (2018). Which ecological determinants influence Australian children’s fruit and vegetable consumption?. Health Promotion International33(2), 229-238. https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/daw063

Halafoff, A., Singleton, A., Bouma, G., & Rasmussen, M. L. (2020). Religious literacy of Australia’s Gen Z teens: Diversity and social inclusion. Journal of Beliefs & Values41(2), 195-213. https://doi.org/10.1080/13617672.2019.1698862

Johnson, G. M. (2016). Technology use among Indigenous adolescents in remote regions of Australia. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth21(2), 218-231. https://doi.org/10.1080/02673843.2013.823553

Ju, X., Brennan, D., Parker, E., Mills, H., Kapellas, K., & Jamieson, L. (2017). Efficacy of an oral health literacy intervention among Indigenous Australian adults. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology45(5), 413-426. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdoe.12305

Kral, I. (2018). The literacy question in remote Indigenous Australia. http://hdl.handle.net/1885/148982

Kral, I., & Schwab, R. G. (2016). A space to learn: A community-based approach to meaningful adult learning and literacy in remote Indigenous Australia. Prospects46(3-4), 465-477. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11125-017-9404-y

Macqueen, S., Knoch, U., Wigglesworth, G., Nordlinger, R., Singer, R., McNamara, T., & Brickle, R. (2019). The impact of national standardized literacy and numeracy testing on children and teaching staff in remote Australian Indigenous communities. Language Testing36(2), 265-287. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0265532218775758

McKenzie, H. A., Dell, C. A., & Fornssler, B. (2016). Understanding addictions among indigenous people through social determinants of health frameworks and strength-based approaches: A review of the research literature from 2013 to 2016. Current Addiction Reports3(4), 378-386. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40429-016-0116-9

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Rheault, H., Coyer, F., Jones, L., & Bonner, A. (2019). Health literacy in Indigenous people with the chronic disease living in remote Australia. BMC Health Services Research19(1), 523. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-019-4411-8

Rice, E. S., Haynes, E., Royce, P., & Thompson, S. C. (2016). Social media and digital technology use among Indigenous young people in Australia: A literature review. International Journal for Equity in Health15(1), 81. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12939-016-0366-0

Schultz, R., Abbott, T., Yamaguchi, J., & Cairney, S. (2019). Australian Indigenous land management, ecological knowledge, and languages for conservation. Ecology Health16(1), 171-176. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10393-018-1380-z

Schwab, R. (2018). Twenty years of policy recommendations for indigenous education: overview and research implications. Canberra, ACT: Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR), The Australian National University. http://hdl.handle.net/1885/145522

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Smylie, J., O’Brien, K., Xavier, C. G., Anderson, M., McKnight, C., Downey, B., & Kelaher, M. (2018). Primary care intervention to address cardiovascular disease medication health literacy among Indigenous peoples: Canadian results of a pre-post-design study. Canadian Journal of Public Health109(1), 117-127. https://link.springer.com/article/10.17269/s41997-018-0034-9

Webb, G. L., & Williams, C. J. (2018). Factors affecting language and literacy development in Australian Aboriginal children: Considering dialect, culture, and health. Journal of Early Childhood Research16(1), 104-116. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1476718X17693417

Wilson, B., Quinn, S. J., Abbott, T., & Cairney, S. (2018). The role of Aboriginal literacy in improving English literacy in remote Aboriginal communities: An empirical systems analysis with the Interplay Wellbeing Framework. Educational Research for Policy and Practice17(1), 1-13. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10671-017-9217-z

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