Aboriginal timeline: Education

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1814

  1. Governor Macquarie opens a school for Aboriginal children at Parramatta called the ‘Native Institution’ to “civilise, educate and foster habits of industry and decency in the Aborigines”. The local Aboriginal people (Koori) remove their children from the school after they realise that its aim is to distance the children from their families and communities. The school closes in 1820.

1815

  1. Governor Macquarie founds the Native Institute as a school for Aboriginal children of both sexes.

1837

  1. The policy of protection for Aboriginal people marks the beginning of involvement of the Catholic Church in missionary work and the establishment of schools for Aboriginal children.

1848

  1. The Board of National Education, established in NSW, states “It is impractical to provide any form of education for the children of blacks”.

1870

  1. In the early 1870s the first Aboriginal children are enrolled in the public schools in NSW. By 1880 there are 200 Aboriginal children in school in NSW.

1880

  1. Department of Public Instruction formed. About 200 Aboriginal children enrolled in public schools.

1883

  1. White parents object to about 16 Aboriginal children attending a public school at Yass. The Minister for Education, George Reid, stops the children from attending stating that although in general creed or colour should not exclude a child “cases may arise, especially amongst the Aboriginal tribes, where the admission of a child or children may be prejudicial to the whole school”.

1909

  1. The NSW Aborigines Protection Act is introduced following crises in public schools. The Act also made it illegal for ‘half-castes’ to live on reserves. In 1915 and 1918 amendments to the Act give the NSW Aborigines Protection Board greater powers to remove children from their families for training as domestic servants.

  2. Aboriginal schools are established in NSW. Exclusion of Aboriginal children from public schools followed requests by the white community. In NSW there are 22 Aboriginal schools in 1910, 35 in 1920 and 40 in 1940. The syllabus stresses manual activities and the teacher is usually the reserve manager’s untrained wife.

1946

  1. Aboriginal children need a medical certificate to attend public schools.

1950

  1. The first formal schooling for Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory is provided. Lack of facilities is rationalised by the claim that children “beyond the age of 10 couldn’t keep up with white children anyway”.

  2. Aboriginal children assimilate into NSW local schools, if all other parents agree. This right of veto is removed in 1960.

1959

  1. Margaret Williams is the first Aboriginal university graduate with a diploma in physical education [8].

1964

  1. A NSW Teachers Federation survey finds that 9% of Aboriginal students progressed beyond Year 9 and classifies 58% as ‘Slow Learners’.

1965

  1. May

    After entering in 1963, Charles Perkins becomes the first Aboriginal university graduate at University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts. He is also the first Aboriginal Australian to graduate from university.

1966

  1. Margaret Valadian becomes the first Aboriginal university graduates at Queensland University. She goes on to also become the first postgraduate student.

1971

  1. Principals of schools in New South Wales are no longer able to exclude Aboriginal children because of home conditions or community opposition.

  2. The Second NSW Teachers Federation Survey finds that 27% of Aboriginal students now reach Year 10 and classifies 38% as ‘Slow learners’.

1972

  1. 23 August

    NSW Director-General of Education approved the removal of the section of the teachers’ handbook that allowed school principals to refuse enrolment to Aboriginal children because of home conditions or substantial opposition from the community.

1976

  1. Establishment of the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG).

Harvard citation

Korff, J 2019, Aboriginal timeline: Education, <https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australian-aboriginal-history-timeline/education>, retrieved 24 February 2019

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