Issue 7 - 6 August 2013 enews home

Education best option for escaping poverty

By Patrick Nelson


Gemma Church (second from left) and other Australian Global Voices delegates meet UN Development Program Administrator and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clarke

A Charles Darwin University teaching undergraduate said she echoes the United Nations sentiment that Indigenous people should have the right to culturally relevant education in their own language.

Gemma Church, who attended the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York recently, said she regretted that too few knew of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has determined that Indigenous people should have the right to culturally relevant education in their own language,” she said.

“But there is a lack of knowledge of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples both here in Australia and around the world.”

Ms Church said it was widely accepted that linguistically and culturally relevant education may facilitate improved academic achievement for Indigenous students, particularly in remote locations, who are among the world’s most educationally and socially disadvantaged.

“Education remains the most powerful option for escaping that poverty and social disadvantage,” Ms Church said.

Sponsored by CDU, Ms Church was one of just six Australians selected as part of the Global Voices youth development program to attend the forum in semester one.

“It was informative and motivating and allowed me to explore areas such as international issues, policy making and politics that I may not have otherwise looked at.

“Many of the issues confronting Indigenous people overseas, paradoxically, are the same but different, to the issues we have in Australia.

“The adverse effects of colonisation on modern life in health, education, culture and connection to land are common to many Indigenous groups,” she said.

Ms Church, who is studying for degrees in Applied Science, and Teaching and Learning, recommended the Global Voices program to students with an interest in leadership, international issues or networking with like-minded people in other countries.

CDU has called for applications from students interested in participating in Global Voices’ October youth delegation to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington.

Students must have their applications in to Global Voices by 8 August.