'First Four Hours' policy change welcomed

The Northern Territory Education Department has introduced amendments to the 'English for the First Four Hours' policy in schools. The policy has been replaced it with it's 'Framework for Learning English as an Additional Language', which recognises the need for a more culturally-appropriate education system.

Dr. Margret Florey, Senior Linguist with the Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity, says many Indigenous children speak an Aboriginal language at home, with English being their second or third language. Dr. Florey says a bilingual schooling system would improve literacy and numeracy and the 'First Four Hours' policy had its share of problems. "One of the really detrimental effects was, first of all, it was actually hindering the children's opportunities to really get a strong foothold in literacy. "But, it also really had a detrimental effect on children's sense of identity, their pride in their language and culture and impacted on community well-being. "Many communities have said that it really made them feel again disempowered."

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