The first detailed history of the innovative Northern Territory Bilingual Education Program, which began in remote schools more than 40 years ago, was launched at Charles Darwin University (CDU) as part of NAIDOC Week.
The book, titled History of Bilingual Education in the Northern Territory, draws together the grassroots perspectives of education professionals and researchers, archival materials and policy analysis.
Dr Brian Devlin, who is a CDU Professorial Fellow and the lead editor, said the book honoured the work of staff in bilingual programs at 29 remote schools.
Since 1973, English and 19 Aboriginal languages have been used at various times as languages of instruction in these schools.
“The book offers valuable insights into the policy settings that have helped and hindered bilingual education and therefore it has implications for minority language rights in Australia and elsewhere,” Devlin said.
Devlin along with Nancy Devlin, a Fellow of CDU’s School of Education and former lecturer, approached Dr Samantha Disbray, who has researched bilingual education in Aboriginal schools in Central Australia, and the trio collaborated to gather stories and case studies from more than 20 contributors.