Education is a gift that no one can take away
In 2016 Barker College entered into a new approach to Indigenous education with the establishment of the Darkinjung Barker School for K-6 Indigenous students at Yarramalong on the Central Coast. The NSW Central Coast, North Coast and Wollongong account for almost a third of the entire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
In 2020, Ngarralingayil Barker opened in Wollombi, catering to students from the Cessnock, Maitland and Kurri Kurri areas.
The establishment of these unique schools is a result of the support of the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council, the Kiray Putjung Aboriginal Corporation (KPAC), the local communities and parents, and of the Barker Council, staff, students, parents and alumni. There is high commitment by all.
In 2021, Dhupuma Barker opened as a bilingual primary school for Yolŋu children from the community at Gunyangara in North East Arnhem. The School is a partnership between the Yothu Yindi Foundation and Barker College, aspiring to revive the ideals of the former Dhupuma College, and prioritise Yolŋu Matha (language), Rom (culture, knowledge) and Galtha (ways of learning).
The opening of Dhupuma Barker is the first step in a broader vision for Yolŋu education in the region. The primary school, with an attached early childhood education program, is the start of what will ultimately be a whole of life education project, on which Yothu Yindi Foundation have partnered with Studio Schools Australia and Melbourne University to deliver high school and tertiary education.
A priority for each of the three schools is the development of strong foundational skills in literacy and numeracy for Indigenous students from Kindergarten to Year 6. Our intent is to instil a confidence to learn and a desire to learn.
The experience of Barker’s Head of School, Mr Phillip Heath, in establishing Gawura at St Andrews Cathedral School highlights that Indigenous programs must be in and of the community. Each community is very different, faces different issues, and our program is structured to this particular community. However the Barker philosophy will still apply at Yarramalong, Wollombi and Dhupuma – a commitment to all students being the best they can be.
Darkinjung, Ngarralingayil, Dhupuma and Barker recognise the importance of upholding Aboriginal cultural identities as we strive to close the gap educationally. There is a shared vision of creating a two-way partnership where we can learn from one another in an educational model that is unique in Australia.
Read more in our 2021 Annual Report.