Only 15% of Indigenous Year 5 students in a very remote area in the Northern Territory were at or above the national minimum standard for reading, which is a 10% deterioration on last year.
The 2017 National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) Report was released today and the results indicate that our work, focusing on early literacy in remote communities, is absolutely essential.
Although there is an improvement amongst Indigenous literacy rates in urban and metropolitan areas, the statistics show otherwise for remote communities. Only 15% of Indigenous Year 5 students in a very remote area in the Northern Territory were at or above the national minimum standard for reading, compared to the 2016 report that showed 25%.
WHY THIS GAP? There are many complex issues that impact on the results, and in most cases a combination of factors. These include issues of historical, health, social, and educational disadvantage. Even the simplest things, like quality reading materials and resources, items that we take for granted, are not present in many remote and very remote communities across Australia. Most of the remote communities that we work with report there are less than five books in family homes.
Our Foundation's approach to raising literacy levels starts ensuring there are appropriate and quality books in homes and communities. How can you learn to read if there are no books?
This year, we have gifted 63,000 books through our Book Supply program, and 250,000 in our lifetime to more than 250 remote communities. This is 40% more than last year and this number is increasing every year.
Our early literacy Book Buzz program is proving effective as we start to receive preliminary results from this year’s evaluation. The program focuses on providing babies, toddlers and their families with the right resources and in language, so they start school feeling confident.
We are committed to taking sustainable steps to make a difference. There are strengths and challenges in each community, but we continue to build relationships and find new ways to support communities according to what they need.
More information on these figures, please refer to Table 5.R6: Achievement of Year 5 Indigenous Students in Reading, by Geolocation, by State and Territory, 2017 here.