Earlier this week, the 2018 NAPLAN (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) Report was released.
The results show some improvement in literacy rates nationally, including among Indigenous students living in urban and metropolitan areas. For instance, the national results in reading for Indigenous students in Years 3 and 5 were better than in 2017.
However, compared to non-Indigenous students there is still a massive discrepancy in literacy skills. And this is especially so among Indigenous students living in remote and very remote parts of Australia. For these youngsters, the report’s results are far less promising and only confirm for us that there is still much work to be done.
Only 14.4% of Indigenous Year 7 students living in very remote parts of the Northern Territory are reading at or above the national minimum standard. The national average for reading for Indigenous Year 7 students living in very remote areas is 29.8%.
Many Indigenous primary school students living in very remote areas are not reading at mimimum levels for their age group either.
In the Northern Territory, only 23% of Year 3 Indigenous students in very remote areas achieved the national minimum standard for reading, while in South Australia 41.7% were reading at this level. Compare these results to the Australia-wide rate of 45.2% of Indigenous Year 3 students living in very remote areas reading at the national minimum standard.
Many complex issues account for these glaring gaps, including historical disadvantage when it comes to opportunities for education and pre-schooling. But lack of access to books and other appropriate literacy resources continues to play a huge part.
While many of us take for granted having reading materials for both ourselves and the children in our lives, in many remote Indigenous communities across Australia there are books in only a handful of family homes.
For our Foundation, the 2018 NAPLAN results confirm that our focus in encouraging early literacy in such communities remains vital. Our work in aiming to raise literacy levels starts with making sure that every Australian child, no matter how remote their home, has easy and daily access to quality and culturally appropriate books.
This year, we plan to gift 92,000 books through our Book Supply program. And our early literacy Book Buzz program continues to expand, providing babies, toddlers and their families with much-needed resources – including in first language.
We are committed to making a difference. Join us by donating today: www.ilf.org.au/donate