Research on Indigenous Literacy - a snapshot

"It is an indisputable fact that Indigenous children in remote and very remote communities are being significantly outperformed by non-Indigenous students and students living in metro locations. Although minimal progress has been made over the years, one clear statistic shows that between 40-60% of Indigenous children in very remote locations across WA, SA and NT are achieving below the minimum standard in Reading in Year 3. This injustice is certainly something that we as a nation cannot ignore"                                                                                                       Karen Williams, Executive Director

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation's (ILF) approach to raising literacy levels starts at a community level. The focus is on early exposure to appropriate and quality books – through book supply – to homes and communities. 

The ILF support first language and culture, and work with community members to translate books into first language. ILF supports the writing and publishing of community stories. 

There are strengths and challenges in each community, but the ILF continues to build relationships and find new ways to support communities according to what they need. 

Closing the Gap report 2015

The results of the Australian Government's 2015 Closing the Gap report showed that: 

  • School attendance rates are as low as 14 per cent in very remote areas of Australia
  • Statistically, there has been no significant improvement between 2008 and 2014 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at or above the national minimal standard in reading and numeracy across the eight measures. (Ie. in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9).
  • In 2014, 34.9 per cent of Indigenous students in very remote areas met or exceeded the national minimal standard for Year 7 reading. 
  • Results for non-Indigenous students show less variation by area remoteness, but for Indigenous students, the gap is much wider in very remote areas than it is in metropolitan areas
  • About 70 per cent of Indigenous students achieved the Year 5 national minimum standards in reading and numeracy. There were significant declines in some states across some year levels. The Northern Territory has the lowest proportion of children achieving minimal standards. 

Naplan test 2014 

The 2014 National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) report results showed that:

  • Only two in 10 children in very remote parts of the Northern Territory are achieving at or above the minimum standard for reading in Year 3. This drops to only one in 10 by the time a child reaches Year 9.
  • More than half (57 per cent) of Northern Territory-based Indigenous students in Year 3 achieved below the national minimum standard in numeracy
  • More than 65 per cent of Northern Territory-based Indigenous students in Year 3 achieved below the national minimum standard in reading, persuasive writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation.
  • More than 75 per cent of Northern Territory-based Indigenous students in Year 5 achieved below the national minimum standard in persuasive writing.

OECD PISA report 2012

 The OECD’s 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) results show there is a 2.5 year gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous literacy rates in Australia