Calls for Indigenous language tuition in Northern Territory primary schools
Primary school students across the Northern Territory should be learning Indigenous languages as part of their curriculum, according to the Greens candidate for the Casuarina by-election.
Dr Michael Connard this week revived debate about the possibility of teaching school children Indigenous languages over other entrenched staples, such as French or Japanese.
surround or protect (sb/sth) with a trench or trenches 用壕沟围绕或保护（某人[某物]）: The enemy were strongly entrenched on the other side of the river. 敌军在河的对岸用坚固的壕沟防守.
(fig sometimes derog 比喻, 有时作贬义) establish (sth/sb) very firmly 牢固地确立（某人[某事物]）: entrenched ideas, ie ones that are firmly fixed in the mind 根深蒂固的想法 * entrenched rights, ie those that are guaranteed by legislation 固有的权利 * She is entrenched in her right-wing views. 她的右翼观点根深蒂固.
“This is not a new concept. It’s not a new idea,” Dr Connard said.
“There have been numerous government reports calling for the inclusion of Aboriginal language in schools to promote identity, culture and help reduce the identity crisis suffered by many young people.”
Several schools across the Territory currently taught Indigenous language in a non-bilingual capacity, but the practice was not entrenched.
“I think this should be done Territory-wide rather than a piecemeal（副词，一点一点地） school-by-school response,” said Dr Connard.
“We’ve already had school-by-school cases. This is something we should be doing across the board全部，全面.”
Previous calls for Indigenous language education in Australian schools faced criticism about practical application barriers, such as how to create a cohesive curriculum from a very diverse pool of多样的 languages.
There were more than 100 Indigenous languages and dialects spoken in the NT.
Dr Connard said he envisaged that primary schools would teach their local community’s Indigenous language in collaboration with local elders.
Darwin’s primary schools would therefore teach Larrakia language, he said.
Primary school doesn’t go far enough
Professor Michael Christie from the Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University, said teaching Indigenous languages up to year 6 level did not go far enough.
He said it made sense to teach Indigenous language all the way through both primary and high school curriculums.
“I think that everybody ought to have the opportunity to learn an Aboriginal language and there should be good resources [put] into helping that,” he said.
Mr Christie said the policy should be viewed as something that would encourage multiculturalism rather than conversational Indigenous language skills in non-Indigenous students.
“It’s about the culture — it might not be conversational language at all,” he said.
“The benefit is are we learning to understand and know our environment better [and] appreciate its ancient history and contemporary culture.
“The language is the means to the end.”
Mr Christie said collaborating with local elders on Indigenous language tuition would have the added bonus of employing more Indigenous people in remote communities.
The Casuarina by-election would be held on Saturday and was brought on by the retirement of Labor’s Kon Vatskalis.