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The MK Turner Report is a landmark report, created by the cultural authority of Utyerre Apanpe network and Children’s Ground. It establishes a plan for a First Nations-led and designed education reform in Australia by privileging an approach entitled Apmerengentyele, the Arrernte concept of ‘world view.’
Apmerengentyele is a sophisticated system of knowledge and practice that underpins an Arrernte person’s world view – (Arrernte is a First Nations language group of Central Australia. While each First Nation has its own language and culture for their own system of knowledge and practice, each one shares knowledge, ways of knowing, values, and a common practice.
In this series, we are exploring the recommendations of the MK Turner Report to consider how they can be implemented. The Report’s fifth recommendation is to develop and support a First Nations education workforce.
For a First Nations-led and designed education system to be developed, there must be a recognition of First Nations educators within their own cultural authority (First Cultural educators).
Australian Governments can support a First Nations education workforce by developing a comprehensive First Nations education workforce strategy, led by First Nations educators from early years to secondary schooling.
It is crucial to focus on the attraction, retention, recognition, and remuneration of First Nations educators, particularly regarding the recognition of cultural and linguistic skills. This includes nationally agreed standards in First Cultural teaching.
Government, with Utyerre Apanpe and First Nations education bodies AITSIL and ACARA, must review and invest in teacher training pathways for First Nations people including a targeted strategy for remote and regional First Nations people. This means reviewing and rectifying all ‘teacher assistant’ positions where significant numbers of First Nations staff are not paid equitably for their skills within the education system. There must be standards for adequate cultural protections, inclusions, and authorities for First Cultural educators in mainstream schooling.
We have the chance to focus on burgeoning expert areas in education while transforming the First Nations education workforce in Australia. This could include First Nations knowledge areas and emerging specialist areas (such as climate change) to engage and build First Nations specialist teachers.
“Akaltye-arle-anthemeye – teaching is a really sacred thing because everything that we’re learning is sacred. Nthakenhe amangkenhetyeke – to grow up, how to be, how to continue growing and learning in the right way through our lives.” – Dr MK Turner O.A.M., Elder and Cultural Professor
First Nations children will be taught in the Apmerengentyele way by an education workforce that is sustainable, properly remunerated, operates within a framework of high cultural standards and, importantly, is underpinned by First Nations people.
The cultural safety and cultural responsiveness of the Australian mainstream education system will be improved through a strengthened First Nations education workforce that is bolstered through high-quality and improved training, attraction practices, retention, pathways, and recognition.
The MK Turner Report is a landmark report, created by the cultural authority of Utyerre Apanpe network and Children’s Ground. It establishes a plan for a First Nations-led and designed education reform in Australia, privileging an approach entitled Apmerengentyele, the Arrernte concept of ‘world view.’