Fighting for Equity in Education

The struggle is long but hope is longer

Indigenous Students Will Be Disadvantaged by Mt. Neighbour PS Closure

Thursday September 14, 2006

Closure of Mt Neighbour Primary School will mean the demise of a school community that has for decades embraced its indigenous students, their families and their culture.

The Canberra Social Plan talks about achieving sustained improvement in access, equity and participation for the people of the ACT.

It promises to protect the rights of all Canberrans, to provide more equity for the disadvantaged, to educate children in a safe, healthy, cohesive community, and to promote reconciliation.

The Towards 2020 plan puts all of these ideals at risk, by forcing our families to travel outside of their local community and place their children in schools further from home.

We surveyed our Mount Neighbour families and discovered that 57% of our parents either are themselves, or know, adult ex-students.

One of our indigenous families has enjoyed a 25 year relationship with the school, with a new generation currently attending and young ones yet to enrol.

84% of families also said that they chose the school because it is local.

How exciting to see proof of our strong ties with so many members of our community!

As the public school with the third highest proportion of indigenous enrolments in the ACT, closure for us is also at odds with the Department’s policy aimed at encouraging indigenous people to participate in education.

I’m confused. So, our families are forced to attend other schools further from home, and this is somehow supposed to strengthen our community, improve equity, and promote reconciliation?

What makes more sense to me is that it will have quite the opposite effect.

So, instead of fracturing an obviously strong community, how about helping us to strengthen what we already have?

There are many more positive alternatives – one might be to have the local schools double as Community Centres – imagine what this would do to address the goals of the Canberra Social Plan.

All the government needs to do, is be a little more creative.

Verity Warn
Mt. Neighbour PS

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