Outrage at plan to force Aboriginal children to learn English


Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"

Barbara McMahon in Sydney

Friday May 25, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

A plan by the Australian government to force Aboriginal children to learn English ignited fierce debate today, with some activists calling the plan racist and insulting.

The initiative was put forward by Australia's indigenous affairs minister, Mal Brough, who said the compulsory teaching of English would help Aboriginal children living in remote and economically deprived communities to escape poverty and inequality and find jobs.

He also revealed that the government was considering a plan to require Aboriginal parents to ensure that their children attend school or risk losing welfare payments.

"If you don't have maths and English and a basic education ... then you can't be employed," Mr Brough said. Referring to children living in some of Australia's most inaccessible communities, he added: "Most of the children don't speak any semblance of English. So what chance have they got?"

He said he was not suggesting that Aboriginal people should give up their own language but that they should follow the example of migrants to Australia, such as Greeks and Italians, who are bilingual.

His comments, made at a particularly sensitive time as Australia marks the 40th anniversary of the 1967 referendum that allowed Aborigines to be counted as citizens, infuriated some indigenous leaders.

Tauto Sansbury of the Aboriginal justice advocacy committee said the idea was insulting and would reinforce old-fashioned stereotypes. "They still want to treat Aboriginal people the way it was back in the 30s and 40s, where they're the master and we're the servant and our attitude is 'yes boss, we'll do what you want'," he said.

Another activist Sam Watson said the government seemed to be "inventing new ways of showing Aboriginal people cultural disrespect".

Federal opposition education spokesman, Stephen Smith, however, said he agreed in principle with the government's push for indigenous children to be compelled to learn English.

"As a general proposition, we have to improve the standards of Aboriginal literacy and numeracy," he said. "We have to go right back to basics. We have to sit down frankly and say, 'All of the things we've done in the past, where have we ended up?'"

Indigenous MP Linda Burney agreed that speaking English would help lift indigenous children out of poverty and inequality. "Aboriginal kids do need to be bilingual but it's a bit rich coming from a person who actually is part of a government that took away funding for bilingual programs in the Northern Territory," she said. "It is important for Aboriginal children to speak English but it can't be at the expense of your mother tongue."

Australia's 460,000 Aborigines make up 2% of the population and are the country's most disadvantaged group, with far higher rates of unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence and health problems.

The number of Aboriginal languages that existed in Australia prior to colonisation is estimated to be about 600. Currently there are 200 different Aborginal dialects across Australia, with about 20 in constant use. Many Aborigines speak dialects mixed with English that may be incomprehensible to an inexperienced listener.

abuse- nadużywanie

at the expense of – kosztem (czegoś)

attitude – stosunek, podejście, postawa

compelled to – zmuszony do

consider – rozważać, brać pod uwagę

disadvantaged – pokrzywdzony, w gorszej sytuacji

disrespect – brak szacunku

economically deprived – upośledzony pod względem ekonomicznym

estimate - szacować

fierce – gwałtowny, zacięty

ignite- rozpalać, rozniecać, wywoływać wybuch

in principle – w zasadzie

incomprehensible- niezrozumiały

indigenous – miejscowy, tubylczy

infuriate - rozwścieczać

literacy – umiejętność czytania i pisania

mark – odnotować, pamiętać

mother tongue – język ojczysty

numeracy – umiejętność liczenia

old-fashioned – staromodny, przestarzały

prior to – przed (czymś)

reinforce - wzmacniać

require – wymagać, potrzebować

semblance - podobieństwo

spokesman - rzecznik

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