Arnhem youth inspired to learn through new education program


A new learning program in northeast Arnhem Land is using traditional knowledge to bridge the gap to mainstream education, teaching students leadership and employment skills.

The Dhupuma Foundational Learning program is a partnership between the Yothu Yindi Foundation (YYF) and the Department of Education and will deliver a unique curriculum for Yolngu students who are disconnected from traditional education settings.

The first group of young people aged between 14 and 17 to enter the program recently participated in the inaugural culture camp run by elders. This is integral to the program as it is designed to combine cultural traditions with mainstream learning such as literacy and numeracy.

YYF chairman and Gumatj leader Dr Galarrwuy Yunupingu said the program was the culmination of many years of hard work by Yolngu leaders with Dhupuma meaning “looking up and ahead.”

“Education is at the heart of everything we do, and the creation of a special program for education and culture in northeast Arnhem Land has been a vision of the YYF since its inception in the 1990’s,” he said.

“It’s not designed to replicate or replace school, but rather to enable those who are disconnected from the traditional education environment to get the skills they need to succeed in life.”

Dhupuma Foundational Learning program senior teacher Cameron Adams said flexible learning offered a sustainable and locally relevant approach to education to better support Yolngu students engage, grow and achieve.

“Foundational learning promotes the development of strong young people, through the delivery of targeted training and learning programs based on community and cultural connections,” he said.

“This program is a great opportunity for real power-sharing experiences, in which the young people are the experts of their own knowledge and use this knowledge as the bridge to acquiring new skills in the mainstream curriculum that will serve them in the contemporary world.”

YYF chief executive Denise Bowden said the program would provide pathways into further education, as well as opportunities to develop job-specific training through vocational programs.

“We have always aspired for our young people to have the foundational skills needed to properly shape their futures, to be role models, and balance the Yolŋu and Balanda worlds,” she said.

Dhupuma Foundational Learning program

Dhupuma Foundational Learning program

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