29 Dec 2008

Australian government pledges $2.3b to fight indigenous illiteracy

3:13 pm on 29 December 2008

The Australian government has confirmed it will spend $A2.3 billion to combat illiteracy and truancy among indigenous students.

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the results of the first, truly national tests to measure literacy and numeracy make it "crystal clear beyond argument" that indigenous children are being left behind.

She told Radio National on Monday that while previous governments have attempted to address the literacy and numeracy gaps between indigenous and non-indigenous students, "no-one is underestimating the scale of the problem".

She said the funding has already been allocated and will flow from 1 January to government and non-government schools.

Ms Gillard said one of the problems with indigenous education is that too many pilot programmes have come and gone without any national reform.

The ABC reports the federal government also says practical action against indigenous illiteracy will take priority over any support for a bill of rights for Aboriginal Australians.