The Association of Independent Schools of the Northern Territory is delighted with the decision of the Northern Territory Government to register Nawarddeken Academy as the newest NT Independent School.
Nawarddeken Academy began in Kabulwarnamyo (in western Arnhem Land, roughly halfway between Jabiru and Maningrida) in August 2015 with one teacher, eight students and a balabbala classroom. (A balabbala is a well-serviced safari tent.)
Creating a school where Warddeken children could be educated in their own community was the dream of a respected Elder, Lofty Nadjamerrek, who passed away in 2009. He recognised that the health and wellbeing of his people relied heavily on being on Country, connected to Country and maintaining cultural traditions.
All school-age students and some school operations are funded by Australian-based donors through Karrkad-Kanjdji Trust, which steers philanthropic money into projects within the Warddeken and Djelk Indigenous Protected Areas. There is also in-kind support from Warddeken Land Management which earns money through carbon credits.
Over the past two years, attendance for students who are enrolled and in community at Kabulwarnamyo is 85%. Teachers and community members report that being educated in their home community means that children’s health is improved and their confidence levels have risen. The Academy and the community are committed to building on a unique, two way educational system that successfully supports children into a future that delivers on the aspirations of the community. Quality education is provided for early learners (0-4 years old) and primary aged students.
“It is a model that works, and one that other communities are taking note of,” Olga Scholes, Executive Officer of Nawarddeken Academy, says. “The proof of its effectiveness will be the next generation of educated, culturally connected, strong Warddeken people, and everyone involved is excited to play a part in making this happen.”