Bucket-loads better spent on local education

Kerri Carr

Nicole Major: Scholarships are cherry-picking leaders from communities

Taking kids out of their communities to be educated is not the best solution for Aboriginal kids, Australian Education Union Federal Aboriginal Education Coordinator Nicole Major told Federation’s Friday Forum on May 15.

The recent Federal Budget provided $5.4 million over two years to assist non-government boarding schools with large numbers of Indigenous students and the Northern Territory Government plans to develop boarding schools in seven regional centres for secondary students from remote areas.

Ms Major said governments were “pouring bucket-loads of money” into scholarship programs and building boarding schools without there being any evidence-based research to back-up their decisions.

She said scholarships to private schools were “cherry picking our leaders, they are cherry picking our role models, they are cherry picking our athletes, our musicians, our artists, our communities” and removing connection with Country and community.

“There’s a Stolen Generation, again, in terms of private schools and those scholarships,” she said.

Ms Major said the message that the only way to get an education was to leave your community was “utterly appalling”.

“We have to continue to [campaign for] strong provision of a public education in every community from pre-school…to secondary school,” she said.

“Kids must be guaranteed a high quality education in the community they live in.”

“Gonski is not a campaign we can walk away from,” she added.