Better education has never been more crucial in securing a stronger future for Indigenous communities.
That is why Warlpiri communities are committed to nurturing happy, healthy and strong Warlpiri kids through programs like the WETT* Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) project partnering with World Vision.
In the remote Warlpiri communities of the Northern Territory, lack of support for the vital transition from early childhood to formal schooling was identified as a factor in Indigenous children falling below the median national standards for literacy and numeracy.
W** Johnson is a local Shire Councillor who noticed that young children were reaching school-age unprepared due to lack of early childhood education. “Kids who don’t go to pre-school don’t settle in and go back to mum,”
says W. “There are problems when there is [no early childhood education such as] playgroup. Children don’t know how to pick up pens, paper and scissors.”
To address this issue, the Warlpiri people invited World Vision into their communities to help identify a solution and in 2008 the WETT Warlpiri Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Project was born.
The project focused on creating early childhood care and development facilities through building and retaining early childhood knowledge within the community. Rather than bring in staff, the project trained local Warlpiri women who then set up community playgroups and supported an existing crèche and childcare centre.
The project combines two ways of learning: the “Yapa” (Indigenous) way and the “Kardiya” (non-Indigenous) way, with traditional Warlpiri language and culture an important part of the curriculum.
While parents have access to information about childhood care, education and nutrition, children are able to familiarise themselves with the socialising and learning aspects of school. All activities are play-based which provides a rich and fun learning environment.
Getting Warlpiri kids school-ready is just the first step in playing catch-up to national education standards for the Indigenous community; however it is an important one.
With this continued focus on education for the Warlpiri community, long-term goals of rebuilding a resilient and strong community for future generations is within reach. “Teaching early childhood is rebuilding our peoples slowly step by step,” says W, “like a little stairway; starting crawling and learn all the way to the top”.
* WETT stands for Warlpiri Education and Training Trust a local Indigenous body with Warlpiri leaders responsible for the management of funds for projects in their communities. WETT invited World Vision to partner with them to implement the WETT Early Childhood Care and Development Project.
** In this story an interviewee is referred to as “W”. “W” is an alternate name chosen following a community member of the same name passing away. In respect to mourning traditions known as “sorry business” it is customary not to use a bereaved person’s name for a period of time.