Many Aboriginals walk away from schooling with a sense of relief – it was an unenjoyable experience that they couldn’t wait to get away from. Inevitably, these kids will join the ranks of the unemployed as there is no expectation pathway for Aboriginal youth to enter government, run businesses or educate the next generation of Aboriginals. Management of the lands stolen from Aborigines is run by white people, not Aborigines. Consequently, Aboriginal school students have no incentive to learn while at school in order to once again manage their lands.
Despite these unfortunate facts, these school drop-outs have enormous untapped talent- great with art, articulate, clever with hands-on tasks. These are the areas of training and stimulation that Aboriginal youth need to throw off their belief that they are failures because of their bad school experiences.
TAFE offers such courses. Short courses provide a great reintroduction to formal education. Practical courses in the trades, arts and design, building and construction through to horticulture and environmental management are relevant to many Aboriginal teenagers and older Aboriginals who had thought their education days are done. TAFE offers another chance for many of these Aboriginals who otherwise would give up on learning.
The more Aboriginals who participate the greater the attraction to other Aboriginals. Nothing substitutes for a shy Aboriginal entering an educational institution seeing a group of their own people at the college.
One day, Aboriginal people might self-determine and run our own programs for our own people. Until that unforeseeable day comes, TAFE fills a vital gap in the lives of Aboriginal people seeking to better themselves and desiring to make a greater contribution to their community.
Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania