Indigenous Education Strategy - Issue 19

Foundational Learning Dream Comes To Life

A new foundational learning program using traditional knowledge to bridge the gap to mainstream education was introduced at Garma in North East Arnhem Land.

Dhupuma Foundational Learning is the realisation of a long-held dream by Yolngu elders and is being delivered in partnership by cultural leaders, the Yothu Yindi Foundation (YYF) and the Department of Education.

The program delivers a unique curriculum for local students at risk of becoming disconnected from traditional education settings.

Senior Teacher Cameron Adams is implementing the learning program designed to engage the students and prepare them for employment.

“My role is to work closely with the students on a day to day basis to engage them through purposeful and flexible learning experiences that motivate and challenge them,” he said.

“The partnership with the Yothu Yindi Foundation has been integral in creating a holistic, culturally appropriate and responsive learning environment to help transition them into employment or further study.”

Recently, a group of foundational learning students had the opportunity to showcase the depth of their cultural knowledge, helping run traditional healing ceremonies called Raypirri, meaning respect and self-discipline, together with Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation at Garma.

In June the students ran cultural tours for a group of Melbourne Girls Grammar School students, collecting seeds, bark, and reeds while sharing their knowledge of country and cultural traditions that have been passed down for many generations.

YYF chairman and Gumatj leader Dr Galarrwuy Yunupingu said the Dhupuma Foundational Learning program was the culmination of many years of hard work by Yolngu leaders.

“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 1990s,” he said.

“The program weaves together an education in Yolngu cultural traditions along with a more mainstream curriculum that emphasises things like literacy and numeracy skills.’’

The Dhupuma Foundational Learning program is for young people aged between 14 and 17 years.

Dhupuma means looking up and ahead.

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Last updated: 11 September 2018

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