Implications of Indigenous community participation in formal schooling for the retention and success of Indigenous students

Year: 1999

Author: Anderson, Lynette, Stehbens, Clare, Herbert, Jeannie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In examining the factors which could have implications for the participation of Indigenous Australian students in education, it can be seen that there is a growing recognition of the need to broaden the focus of formal schooling to consider the implication of community within that.

In accord with policy, schools must foster relations with the communities within which their students belong. For the most part schools, like the wider society, tend to homogenise the notion of 'community'. However, Aboriginal students belong to communities that are diverse and complex and which are not necessarily modelled on the mainstream notion of community. Consequently the inclusion of Indigenous communities in decision making process within schools is often relegated to a position of tokenistic representation. Unfortunately, in many schools there is an apparent absence of any Indigenous representation.

This paper will identify those issues that create the paradox between schools and Indigenous communities as well as those factors that bring about a pragmatic and effective working relationship between schools and Indigenous communities.

Furthermore, the paper will explore the notion of Indigenous rights based education whereby Indigenous communities assert their rights to ensure that Indigenous children are participating in schooling which respects and fosters their cultural identity and integrity.