Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for youth is helping introduce Literacy Backpacks to promote reading by Aboriginal children and their families.
In just five years Literacy Backpacks have reached 20 remote communities and some 2,200 children and their families.
Every student’s backpack carries home suitable books, magazines and newspapers on a regular basis. Teachers, parents and students work together on selection of reading material to enrich the school library. Children make their own choices from book club catalogues. Good readers are rewarded with book vouchers and books.
The Literacy Backpack project began in 2005 after a scoping study established that illiteracy levels were as high as 93% in some Northern Territory remote communities.
Aboriginal community leaders and educators proposed the Literacy Backpacks to tackle the bookless homes, lack of public libraries and the space between the home and the school.
When Indigenous children and their families can read stories about their contemporary life, history and Culture they become more engaged in education. Schools can become places of learning and sharing knowledge.
The Katherine Group Schools Principal, Stuart Dwyer says the Literacy Backpack Project has had a powerful impact in the 16 remote communities it has reached so far in the Northern Territory. Tracking assessments show an increase in the amount of reading material available in the home and a slow but steady improvement in reading and writing ability.
The Literacy Backpacks are supplied in Lockhart River and Palm Island, Queensland; Bidyadanga, Western Australia; and the Northern Territory communities of Wugularr/Beswick, Barunga, Manyallaluk/Eva Valley, Minyerri, Bulman, Jilkminggan, Urapunga, Yarralin, Pine Creek, Timber Creek, Pigeon Hole, Amanbidji, Mataranka, Bulla, Ngukurr, Kalkaringi and Maningrida.
The Literacy Empowerment Project’s Backpack Program is funded by public and corporate donations and by part funding of the grant of $1 million from the Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
Read more about the Literacy Empowerment Project and Progress Reports