Torres Strait Islander Culture Essay

Question:

Discuss about the value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture on Education and Learning.

Answer:

The value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture on education and learning

There are noticeable differences between the Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islanders though both of them are the indigenous groups of Australia. Aboriginal groups are from the mainland Australia where Torres Strait Islanders are from the Torres Strait Islands. The Aboriginals came from Asia and settled in parts of Australia where the Torres Strait Islanders are originated from a group of small islands between Papua New Guinea and Queensland. Aboriginals are the first inhabitants in Australia before the Europeans whereas the Torres Strait Islanders are not the first inhabitants. The Aboriginals are nomadic and live mainly on hunting and food gathering. The Torres Strait Islanders use to live on trade and sea-faring with the neighbouring islands and are good in agriculture which the Aboriginals are not. The differences lie in their beliefs in the power of elements, spirits of nature and earth. The languages of both the groups are different. The languages spoken by most of the Aboriginals are the Pama-Nyungan languages while the languages spoken by the Torres Strait Islanders are the Kala Lagaw Ya and Meriam Mir.


The cultures of the Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islanders have huge effects on the education of Australia (Clark, 2015). There had been huge difference between the Indigenous and the non-Indigenous people in Australia with respect to culture, child development, healthy lives, economic participation, education and training, environment at home and supportive communities (Race. et al., 2016). The gaps between the two types of people have been reduced considerably by the Australian Curriculum. The Aboriginal students were significantly behind than that of the non-Aboriginals (Mander, Cohen & Pooley, 2015). Only about 36% of the Aboriginals could access the library that belongs to the remote communities. The number of Aboriginal students, who got enrolled for the public schools, was very low in the year 2014. The number was also very less in case of enrolment in preschools. The proportion of teachers was very low in the schools who were Aboriginals (McKenzie. Et al., 2014). The diversity of the cultures of the Indigenous people has impacted the education system of Australia. Many non-Indigenous people were not able to understand the dialects and languages of the Indigenous people as there are a multitude of indigenous languages and each one them is complex and different from the other (Hoffmann, 2014). The teachers are having problems with the students and the students are not able to tell the teachers about their problems. On the other hand, the indigenous people have extensive linguistic expertise as they have come in contact with so many languages and dialects (Angelo & Carter, 2015). There are also different types of registers and languages used within the tribal of Australia for various occasions.


The cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander have considerable impacts on the education system of Australia. Consistent national standards have been set in the Australian Curriculum as a plan to improve the learning of the young people (Anderson, 2014). ACARA has acknowledged the gaps that the Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islander students and their peers are having (Hudson & Angelo, 2014). They are far behind than the non-Indigenous people in education. The Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islander students find their culture and identities reflected in the curriculum set by the ACARA. Their cultures have been prioritized and cross-curriculum priority has been designed for all the Indigenous students in order to engage them in reconciliation, recognition and respect as the oldest continuous living cultures of the world. Every student shall come to know about the two cultures and the richness, diversification and resilience that the two cultures have (Jacob, Cheng & Porter, 2015). Students will also come to know that identities and cultures act as the sources of strengths and resilience for the Aboriginal people and the Torres Strait Islander individuals against the contemporary and historic effects of colonisation (Tudball & Anderson, 2016). The knowledge development about the laws, dialects, literacy and languages about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has been approached through the continuous exploration of cultures (Bessarab, Coffin & Wright, 2016). Education has always been considered central for the Indigenous social, cultural and economic development in Australia. A good education system makes determinations about the children’s health, employment, literacy, productivity and social status. The Aboriginal teachers are able to bring broader range of cultural perspectives in the schools of Australia and help to develop wide networks among the Indigenous communities all around the schools. This is considered as a valuable asset to address the needs and problems of the school children. The non-Indigenous students are equally benefitted from the Aboriginal teachers. Many Australians are not aware about the cultures of the Aboriginals which are about 80%. More than 90% of the parents of the school children want their kids to have a good understanding about the cultures of the Indigenous people (Gilbert & Gilbert, 2017). Thus, the two cultures have provided enough value for the education system of Australia.


Colonisation has many impacts on the Australians. One of the effects was the loss of land by the indigenous Australians. The land used to provide food, water, medicine and other basic amenities to the indigenous people who used to have nomadic lifestyles. The population of the aboriginals was reduced drastically by 90%. There were some reasons behind this reduction of population. The immediate impact of British colonisation was the emergence of European diseases. Many of the diseases were chicken pox, influenza, measles and smallpox. All of the mentioned diseases were infectious and spread very fast which killed lot of people in no time. The diseases spread very quickly among the aboriginals. Another impact was the loss of land by the aboriginals. The British reduced the access to the land and water resources for them, which affected them strongly. The British could easily make out the fact that the aboriginals could be easily driven out from the lands. Most of the fertile areas of the country were taken from the aboriginals and handed over to the British settlers. The aboriginal people had no place to live and no food to eat after the essential resources were taken from them. Being affected by the diseases, they had no strength to fight back and their chances for survival were reduced. Another major factor that affected the aboriginals was the introduction of alcohol that badly affected them. The European livestock were restricted to the aboriginals. The alcohol affected them as they had no biological defence which led to more violence and sexual offences in the aboriginal community than the other ones. Massive destruction of the habitat regions for the purpose of raising of crops and domestic animals resulted in widespread desertification, deforestation, erosion and loss of native species.


Colonisation has influenced the education of Australia. The Government of Australia has introduced the struggle and cultural diversities in the curriculum so that everyone will be able to know about their culture, their languages and history. They have learned about the exploitation that the British had done with the Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islander people. Colonisation by the British in Australia has led to the introduction of European style of education system that provided schooling to the children of white origin and did not give much importance to the Indigenous children. Today, the Government of Australia has been able to understand the unfair treatment that had been done with the Indigenous children that affected their education. Colonisation has forced the Australian Curriculum to include the struggle and cultures of the Indigenous people so that more attention can be given on them and the non-Indigenous children and teachers are given more facilities for their advancement. People are able to understand some of the adverse impacts of colonisation that had taken place in Australia long time ago. People have learned about deforestation, erosion, loss of land and desertification. Thus, colonisation has significant impacts on the education system of Australia and on the learning of the adverse effects on the humanity.

References

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Angelo, D., & Carter, N. (2015). Schooling within shifting langscapes: Educational responses in complex Indigenous language contact ecologies. Multilingualism and Language in Education: Current Sociolinguistic and Pedagogical Perspectives from Commonwealth Countries. Cambridge: CUP.

Bessarab, D., Coffin, J., & Wright, M. (2016). Mia Mia Aboriginal Community Development: Fostering Cultural Security. C. Kickett-Tucker (Ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Clark, R. A., Fredericks, B., Buitendyk, N. J., Adams, M. J., Howie-Esquivel, J., Dracup, K. A., ... & Johnson, S. (2015). Development and feasibility testing of an education program to improve knowledge and self-care among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with heart failure. Rural and remote health, 15.

Gilbert, R., & Gilbert, P. (2017). Masculinity goes to school. Routledge.

Hoffmann, C. (2014). Introduction to bilingualism. Routledge.

Hudson, C., & Angelo, D. (2014). Concepts underpinning innovations to second language proficiency scales inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners: a dynamic process in progress. Papers in Language Testing and Assessment, 3(1), 44-85.

Jacob, W. J., Cheng, S. Y., & Porter, M. K. (2015). Global review of indigenous education: Issues of identity, culture, and language. In Indigenous Education (pp. 1-35). Springer Netherlands.

Mander, D. J., Cohen, L., & Pooley, J. A. (2015). ‘If I Wanted to Have More Opportunities and Go to a Better School, I Just Had to Get Used to It’: Aboriginal Students’ Perceptions of Going to Boarding School in Western Australia. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 44(01), 26-36.

McKenzie, P., Weldon, P. R., Rowley, G., Murphy, M., & McMillan, J. (2014). Staff in Australia’s schools 2013: Main report on the survey.

Race, D., Mathew, S., Campbell, M., & Hampton, K. (2016). Understanding climate adaptation investments for communities living in desert Australia: experiences of indigenous communities. Climatic Change, 139(3-4), 461-475.

Tudball, L., & Anderson, P. (2016). Recognizing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Rights and Perspectives Through Civics and Citizenship. Civics and Citizenship Education in Australia: Challenges, Practices and International Perspectives, 61.

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