ECT on a mission to boost First Nations teachers after completing Bachelor in Early Childhood

ECT on a mission to boost First Nations teachers after completing Bachelor in Early Childhood

by Freya Lucas

May 03, 2022

After working as an educator and role model for the children in south east Katherine for more than 30 years Dalabon woman Anita Painter gained her early childhood teacher (ECT) qualification, and is now seeking to inspire other First Nations people to do the same. 

 

Ms Painter said her passion is “education, learning, you know, teaching kids. I love working with kids, teaching them, guiding them”. 

 

Speaking with the Northern Beaches Review, Ms Painter outline her path to early childhood teaching, which began in her early 20s at the Barunga school, and continued through to the late 1990s, when she completed the Remote Aboriginal Teacher Education (RATE) program through Batchelor Institute while she continued working at the school and raising her three children as a 55 year old. 

 

Last year Ms Painter graduated with her Bachelor of Early Childhood Education, saying the relief of being finished with study was huge. She now has her own language and culture class, teaching her first language of Dalabon to transition students all the way up to Grade 12.

 

Children learning First Nations languages from a young age is vital to their education, she said. In the community where she teaches, there are 15 different languages, of which Jawoyn is the main. 

 

“Jawoyn is the main language, we’re on Jawoyn land, but we don’t have any elders who speak fluently,” Ms Painter explained. 

 

“For myself as a Dalabon person…I’m fortunate enough to know enough to teach the kids language so that’s what I’m doing. Another language is the foundation, it’s the starting point of going into what I did, I was taught both ways. So that should be happening.”

 

Based on her experiences, Ms Painter has a vision for not only her community, but the rest of Australia as well. 

 

“I want an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher. I think that’s important for our school, and that’s important for our kids and our Indigenous young people…we have so many Indigenous young people who want to be teachers. My push is to try to get them trained,” she said.

 

“Indigenous teachers need to be equal to non-Indigenous teachers, they need to share programs, they need to talk ideas, not just using…people like us to sharpen pencils, they’re more than that.”

 

Ms Painter acknowledged that there were extra challenges that Indigenous people faced in completing their teaching degree, but had some words of advice for aspiring teachers.

 

“If you think you’re going to fail just think ‘I’m going to tell you about my passion, because that is what is pushing me, pushing me, no matter what.'”

 

To read the original coverage of this story, please see here

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