The Arrernte Secondary Project at Alice Springs Language Centre in the Northern Territory is creating pathways for students to become Aboriginal language teachers. Its programs teach students the Arrernte language and other local dialects and support them to apply for language-based work.
Jannette McCormack, from the Arrernte language group and an educator who has spent more than 30 years teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Alice Springs public schools, heads the innovative program, which has helped students to become more engaged with school and increased attendance rates. It also offers opportunities for students to incorporate their own language in further study and employment.
"Our students want to learn their language because they can see that it will offer them jobs in the future. Then they want to share what they have learned with the younger ones."
McCormack has supported five school-based trainees to become Arrernte educators and they now work in Alice Springs schools. She has also supported a Pertame student (Southern Arrernte) to begin working as an apprentice at Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education in the Northern Territory. Some of the trainees are also completing formal teacher training while working in the school’s language program.