Monday, 8 Aug 2011


For immediate release: Monday 8 August 2011

Closing the current gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous student outcomes is not enough, and planning must prevent a future digital divide from developing, Adelaide University Dean of Aboriginal Education Professor Lester-Irabinna Rigney will tell delegates to the ACER Research Conference on Monday 8 August.

“Current education policy, with good cause, is firmly fixed on closing education gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children. Meanwhile, however, schools which already teach 21st-century skills are moving further ahead,” Professor Rigney said, speaking ahead of the conference.

“Indigenous students also need these 21st-century capabilities in order to participate in society. Schools have a responsibility not only to close the gap, but also to develop in students a deep understanding of technologies,” he said.

Professor Rigney said that technology provides modern options for Indigenous communities to connect with oral and cultural traditions, as well as master English literacy and numeracy. It also offers greater opportunities for those in remote communities to work remotely and access online banking, health and welfare services.

“Information technology has the potential to overcome some of the symptoms, and causes, of the crisis in education for Indigenous Australians,” Professor Rigney said.

“And although the digital infrastructure rollout is underway, most Indigenous communities have had a decade of lag time in accessing and effectively using online services. Significant support is needed to ensure that digital literacy in these communities is developed now and into the future,” he said.

“Policymakers need to act now or risk condemning Indigenous Australians to digital ghettos,” he said.

The ACER Research Conference 2011, on the theme Indigenous Education: Pathways to success, takes place in Darwin from 7 to 9 August.

A new book, Two Way Teaching and Learning, Toward Culturally Reflective and Relevant Education, published by ACER Press and featuring a chapter by Professor Rigney, is being launched at the conference.

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