Interrogating the ethics of literacy intervention in indigenous schools

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Recognising that literacy is fundamental to the educational success of Indigenous students, this essay reviews current literacy intervention programs from a social justice perspective. It reveals the tension between policies and initiatives that have addressed the two key rights of Indigenous people - the right to access mainstream knowledge and language through the provision of empowering education and the right to sustain their own languages and cultures through culturally responsive education. In particular, the essay focuses on the National Accelerated Literacy Program (NALP) - a large-scale initiative supported by the former Liberal and the current Labour government in 2004-2008. A spin-off from NALP has been the formation of the Accelerated Literacy Consultants' Network that provides professional development sessions in Accelerated Literacy and literacy education more broadly to teachers from Aboriginal Independent Community Schools across Australia. The essay questions the view of justice in the NALP's theoretical and pedagogical design and its effects on teaching and learning in Aboriginal schools. The paper, then, discusses the primacy of ethics in literacy education in order to make it more hospitable and responsive to cultural-linguistic differences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-38
Number of pages15
JournalEnglish Teaching: Practice and Critique
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethics of teaching
  • Indigenous schools
  • Literacy intervention
  • Recognition
  • Redistribution

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