Support Indigenous Literacy in NT schools by staffing them with TLs

31 08 2009

It can’t hurt Indigenous Literacy Day that they have the Prime Minister’s wife as a patron.  I wonder if she knows how poorly off school libraries are in the NT?

95% of NT schools have NO school librarians!  which may go a long way towards explaining illiteracy.

Most schools in the NT have budget of less than $1000 per year for their libraries.

School library collections in NT remote schools (the majority) do not have a large range of resources often used to develop pre-reading skills such as  big books, games, puzzles, posters and charts. Students in these schools do not have access to magazines, maps,  or newspapers which are especially useful for reluctant readers (often boys) and teenage readers.

Nearly half the schools in the NT do not have access to traditional learning technologies such as videos, DVDs, CDs and CD-ROMs.

So is it any wonder that we must try to do something to help indigenous students to learn to read?

Our own local teacher librarians group did its bit by purchasing donated books of local children’s literature reviewer, Dr. Kerry White (The Source).  The book sale that kicked off at the Illawarra School Librarians Association meeting on 2 July at Wollongong Public School finished with almost $2000 raised for the Indigenous Literacy Project,

We can also help by supporting our colleagues in the NT in lobbying federal members regarding staffing and resourcing of school libraries there.  They have written to their local minister of education:

The Australian School Libraries Association: Northern Territory Branch (ASLA NT) wishes to bring to your attention the growing trend towards the removal of teacher librarian positions in many schools in the Northern Territory.  We are very concerned about the negative impact this trend will have on student learning.

Let’s support them with a message to our local federal members to let them know there are many ways we can support indigenous literacy. The most significant one would be by resourcing quality school libraries staffed by certified teacher librarians.

Tell them that studies in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK have provided strong evidence that school libraries with certified teacher librarians can have a positive impact on student literacy and learning (Jones 2007, Lance 2000, 2002, etc., Small 2008, Todd 2003, and others). These are some of the findings: Student reading scores increase. Students read more. Students say they enjoy reading more. Students are provided with “materials that present more diverse points of view and that better support the curriculum.” Students score higher in (US) English Language Arts tests. Students have increased cultural identity. Collections of print and digital resources to support teaching and learning are more dynamic. Students value teacher librarians as teachers, when they are helped to become independent critical information seekers. (Further reading at

Indigenous Literacy Day?

A good day to write a letter!!  Perhaps project manager, Karen Williams would also forward a letter to patron Therese Rein (I don’t suppose anyone would have her email address?).  Perhaps Ms Rein could gain someone’s ear to support our colleagues in the Northern Territory in making sure every school has a well-resourced library and a teacher librarian to support indigenous literacy.






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