Mutju Community Education Centre PDF Print E-mail
"The teachers there didn't want us to speak our language....
but we didn't really lose it. I kept it inside of me."

Dinah Garadji - Yugul Mangi Tribe, North Eastern Arnhemlan


At the Mutju Community Education Centre in Katherine, Northern Territory. A dedicated group of Elders has been working with teacher/linguist Jen Munro, to revive the language they knew as children. The team sent this report.

Teaching Language to children,Bringing community languages into schools and Making languages strong."

These are some of the directives from the Katherine Regional Aboriginal Language Centre's (KRALC) Aboriginal committee. They have led to KRALC becoming involved in school- based language programs in the Katherine region of the NT. KRALC provides linguistic advice, resources, materials and teacher/ linguists to the schools, which can ensure the on¬going operation of such programs.

KRALC has built up these resources through various funding bodies, but most particularly through ATSILIP funding. Most of these are revival or maintenance programs. One such program is running at Mutju CEC Ngukurr, which is funded by Aboriginal Education Policy (AEP) Initiative 2. There are eight languages used or represented at Ngukurr.

 

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Edna Nelson and Joas Wilfred
It was decided that Marra would be the first used in the Language program and other languages introduced later.

"We like to keep our language (Marra) alive so that the next generation can learn: So that they can speak the language and keep it going from one generation to the next." Gertie Hiddleston, Betty Roberts, Queenie Riley, Dinah Garadji, Maureen Thompson, Angelina George and Eva Rogers - the Marra language team.

Photo:Edna Nelson and Joas Wilfred were winners of a competition to design art work for T- shirts which were distributed among the school and community. Edna displays her winning design - Ninya nana mirriji. This is a barramundi.

The language program has two parts. One is to hold lessons in the primary school and to teach children Marra.

The second part of the program is to bring the language work into the community and to work with the high school.

I grew up at Roper River Mission as a child, going to school there. The teachers there didn't want us to speak our language. That's how we lost our language, but we didn't really lose it. I kept it inside of me. Dinah Garadji (nee Joshua ) Yugul Mangi Tribe, North Eastern  Arnhemland Hello, I'm Betty Roberts. I live at Ngukurr, and I'm of the Yugul Mangi tribe. My parents used to speak to me in Yugul but I've never spoken it. The only thing I have is When we gather for prayers in the night we often sing in Marra. Betty Roberts. Ngukurr, 

Roper River. Katherine.

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Members of the language team preparing classes.
Hi, I'm Fred Moolee Joshua. I came from Nutwood Downs. My father had spoken Marra which I understood. I can't speak my language but at least I have it all in my head. Now we are working with our language in the school. We're hoping to make it come alive.

Fred Moolee Joshua.  Ngukurr.

I lived long ago by the sea-side. My parents used to speak to me in Marra. I can speak it because I understand from my young time until now. I grew up with my language.

I speak to my grandchildren in Marra at home so that they can learn my language. In the end they will speak Marra I hope.

Queenie Riley