Students at the Heywood and District Secondary College are learning the language of local Aborigines as part of a program to teach more Aboriginal language and culture in Years 7 and 8.
According to the Department of Education and Training, the program is creating opportunities for students to improve their knowledge and connection to the Gunditjmara dialects.
The Aboriginal Languages program (one of several in Victoria) has grown from a trial to an established curriculum for Years 7 and 8 in less than four years.
It was developed in partnership with the Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation and Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, and with strong support from the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc (VAEAI) and Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages (VACL).
Coordinator of the program, Steph Tashkoff said the program had been well-received by the community.
“‘The local Aboriginal community is very happy about the program,” Ms Tashkoff said.
“The Winda-Mara and Gunditj Mirring traditional owners had to give permission for the language and cultural program to be taught in the schools and both groups are involved in the language team that has oversight of the program.”
She said students were invited to help create digital books as part of the Gunditjmara Digital Language Resources program and participated in workshops to develop their stories, and their voices were recorded as part of the narration.
She said students in Year 7 learnt about Aboriginal history, family and kinship, body parts and counting, and language in the context of Aboriginal people and the environment.
The Year 8 curriculum looked at topics such as the seasons and astronomy, and local Aboriginal art and stories.
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