ABORIGINAL LITERACY – THE PROBLEM
There is an enormous gap in literacy standards between non-Indigenous and Indigenous children in Australia. The gap increases for children from remote Indigenous communities. Recent figures show that on average:
- Only 1 in 5 children from remote Indigenous communities can read to an accepted minimum standard;
- By Year 7, only 15% of children from these communities achieve that benchmark - for non- Indigenous students it is more like 90%;
- By the age of 15, more than one-third of Australia’s Indigenous students do not have the adequate skills and knowledge in reading literacy to meet real-life challenges and may well be disadvantaged in their lives beyond school.
“The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students emerges early. Non-Indigenous students far out-perform Indigenous students in benchmark tests for reading, writing and numeracy in Year 3 and Year 5. By Year 7, the gap has widened.” - DEET, NT
It is a common assumption that being illiterate is simply a case of not being able to read or write. But illiteracy covers almost all the skills needed to face real life challenges in a competent, confident way. So it affects the ability to compete for employment or to do further studies. Low literacy levels prevent Aboriginal Australians from getting good jobs and functioning workplace skills.