Tuesday, August 24, 2004


Improvement in literacy and numeracy is one of the greatest challenges of our time. And African children are aware of the nature of the problem because learning English as a second or third language is not everyone’s cup of tea.

Nevertheless, they are beginning to get a better grasp of the extremely liberal teaching and learning culture in Australian schools – a culture that is vastly different from the African school system where punishment for a wrong answer is the order of the day.

For the African child though, making sense of the new system is the real challenge; it is also part of the fun!

But the main objective is to develop an educational program that equips African children with the basic skills necessary to gain access to mainstream education and employment opportunities.

Although research in this area is still in its infancy, anecdotal evidence increasingly points to the link between literacy levels and long-term unemployment in the emerging African communities in Australia – a fact that should be of major concern to educational planners. And parents alike!

In fact, African children are great learners; they come to Australian schools with an open mind - wired to learn; so to speak, but with different cultural and linguistic experiences to begin with, as well as different levels of readiness for school work. It is, therefore, the responsibility of parents, teachers, and the school system (working together) to support their development of literacy and numeracy skills.

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