Building multi-lingual and culturally inclusive futures for our children
Best described by the school’s first board chairman, Mr Ditch Williams, the Rawa Community Schools Philosphy is to teach
“…two ways: Manyjilyjarra on the top and English on the bottom”.
Also known as the Bilingual/Bicultural Maintenance Model, the school is dedicated to teaching in the context of two languages and two cultures: Manyjilyjarra and English/Western, with clear emphasis on the maintenance, support and respect of the child’s first language and culture.
In 2017, the school broadened its use of ‘nature’ and reclaimed a two-way learning pedagogy through the CSIRO Two-way Science, based around Traditional Owners teaching students ‘On Country’.
A nature pedagogy enables children to use their deep relationship with nature to enhance learning. Martu teachers and elders teach students ‘On Country’ through a Nyiti Ranger program in the early years, then in the High School Ranger Program.
It is within this context that the curriculum is founded on the Early Years Learning Framework and the Western Australian Curriculum. The curriculum is modified appropriately to meet the needs of education in the 21st century and more specifically in the Punmu and Kunawarritji communities. Literacy and numeracy skills are emphasised, as they are crucial in enabling children to play an active role in maintaining culture, country and community now and in the future and also succeeding in contemporary Australian society.
Close community involvement in the day-to-day operation of Rawa Community School strongly supports the ideals of Martu self-determination and independence. As a result, the students remain constantly aware of the importance of formal education and the participation of local authority in its direction. In this way all community members are witness to the important role of the community in determining the direction of their school and are assured that their decisions and ambitions are respected. As the original chairman of the board often remarked, at Rawa the Martu and non-Martu are “coming up together”.