First year education student at Southern Cross University Samantha Jurd encourages other Indigenous people to consider training to become teachers.
First year education student at Southern Cross University Samantha Jurd encourages other Indigenous people to consider training to become teachers. Cathy Adams

Plan for more Indigenous teachers

INDIGENOUS professor, Peter Buckskin from the University of South Australia is committed to getting more Indigenous teachers working in Australian schools.

He heads the More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Initiative, a collaboration between the Federal Government, University of South Australia and Australian Council of Deans of Education which aims to increase the number of Indigenous teachers and their professional capacities within Australian schools between 2012 and 2015.

The teaching initiative will analyse demographics, how teaching is promoted as a career and how recruitment can be enhanced.

There are currently 2400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers in Australia but Prof Buckskin said to "reach parity" with the total national population there must be approximately 5000.

"Every individual teacher in a classroom has to be an ambassador for the project to show teaching is an opportunity and rewarding career path for students," he said.

Southern Cross University student Samantha Jurd, who is Aboriginal and studying a Bachelor of Primary Teaching, agreed Indigenous teachers are few and far between.

"I went to probably about six different schools between kindergarten and year 12 and I don't think I had any Indigenous teachers at all," the 19-year-old said.

"I didn't know a lot about my own Aboriginal identity growing up, but I think it's important to know who you are and your background, especially during high school when you're going through so many changes.

"I think it's hard for non-Indigenous teachers to teach Indigenous culture and history with the same meaning behind it."

Prof Buckskin claimed more Indigenous teachers in schools would improve educational and social outcomes for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

 

FACTBOX

There are 2400 indigenous teachers in Australia.

In 2006, there were 517,043 indigenous Australians.

In 2006, there were 155,738 indigenous Australians attending educational institutions.



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