Yirrkala Community Education Centre PDF Print E-mail

In her role as principal of the Yirrkala Community Education Centre, Nalwarri Ngurruwutthun focuses on maintaining the strength of Yolgnu culture in her area of Arnhem Land.

Yirrkala C.E.C. services a community of approximately 900 people, near the north-eastern tip of Arnhem Land. This bilingual school caters for children who may speak any of 16 dialects in the region.

Nalwarri draws on the strength of community elders and praises their commitment to preserving the culture.

"There is a lot of Balanda (non aboriginal influence) coming into the communities, which could destroy our culture, our language and our people.

In this community we have strong elders who act as our resources. Our elders keep alive our bi-lingual education and Galtha programs. They do this for our children."

The diversity of languages in this area results from the division of families into two moeties, Yirritja and Dhuwa, and within these a further separation into clans.

At Yirrkala, Indigenous language is strongly fostered from early childhood right through primary school. Once in the secondary school the students benefit from intensive English studies to prepare them for employment and further education.

Two special programs have been introduced at the school. These have been developed as a result of co-operation between Aboriginal elders, teachers, and the staff of Batchelor College, Melbourne and Deakin Universities.

These programs are the Galtha, or "starting point" workshops, and the Garma Maths program.