In 1979 when the NT took control of its own educational delivery, our first CEO, Dr Jim Eedle met all principals at a conference in Katherine. He said, “schools are for children” and “system structure should always serve that function.” Fast forward 42 years. Our system is gigantic in structural terms. The real meaning of teaching and learning has become diluted and lost within the gigantic and organisationally complex system that education has become.
The constant and often rapid turnover of principals and teachers in remote schools, ( NT News 20/10) is a vexed question. The provision of rent free housing, free utilities, enhanced study leave provisions, provision of airfares to Darwin and Alice Springs, and free freight on foodstuffs have not stopped staff turnover. Maybe it is time to identify the reasons leading to the constant exodus that is occurring. This may lead to solutions.
For decades, Indigenous Education in the NT has been rich in educational plans and increasingly, desperately poor in educational outcomes. This ‘new’ plan endorses some concepts that were introduced in past plans and then discarded. It is sad that panels of experts developing plans NEVER EVER seek input from those who worked in schools and communities in times past. There WERE practices that achieved positive outcomes but the government and Education Department are not interested in past achievements. They appear to abhor any contribution that might be offered by past practitioners and discount evidence of successful practices from the past that might intelligently inform present planners.