Indigenous education gap is widening

Professor Lester-Irabinna Rigney speaking at the 2011 NAIDOC Awards.
Photo by Amanda James.

Professor Lester-Irabinna Rigney speaking at the 2011 NAIDOC Awards.
Photo by Amanda James.

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Friday, 16 September 2011

The University of Adelaide's new Dean of Aboriginal Education, Professor Lester-Irabinna Rigney, will give the 2011 Kevin Marjoribanks Memorial Lecture on the future of Indigenous education in Australia.

With the title Moving beyond 'closing the gap', his lecture on Tuesday 27 September will address the current state of play in Indigenous education and what the future will hold.

Professor Rigney says despite the best efforts of the Federal Government's Closing The Gap initiative, the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous education in Australia is instead widening at primary and secondary school levels.

"Aboriginal education across this country is in crisis," Professor Rigney says.

"In universities across Australia we're seeing higher participation rates and higher retention rates of Aboriginal students. We're doing far better now than we were a decade ago. But at primary and secondary levels, we have poor attendance rates and Aboriginal numeracy and literacy is at its lowest.

"There are multiple issues at secondary school that need to be addressed for easier transition to university. We know that early childhood is fundamental for participation in higher education, so reforms are needed even at that level."

Professor Rigney says there must be more to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander schooling in the 21st century than merely 'closing the gap'.

"Have we targeted all our efforts in the here and now and forgot the need to manage change for the future? Education is a key factor affecting the life chances of all Australians. What will this look like in the future for Indigenous children who have an overall lower level of participation in education than non-Indigenous Australians?"

Professor Rigney is one of the most influential Indigenous scholars in Australia. He has received national and international recognition for the quality of his teaching and research and is author, editor and co-editor of several books on Indigenous education, language and race relations. In 2011 he received the NAIDOC National Aboriginal Scholar of the Year Award, and in 2009 he received an honorary United Nations award from the Australian Chapter for his work on Indigenous education.

WHAT: 2011 Kevin Marjoribanks Memorial Lecture:
Moving beyond 'closing the gap' - toward 21st Century Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education: The New World of Work and The Old World of School
by Professor Lester-Irabinna Rigney

WHERE: Lecture Theatre 102, Napier Building, North Terrace Campus

WHEN: 6.00pm-7.30pm Tuesday 27 September

COST: Free and open to all - but bookings are required

RSVP: To Janine Donnell on 08 8313 3731 or


Contact Details

Professor Lester-Irabinna Rigney
Dean of Aboriginal Education
Wilto Yerlo
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 3624
Mobile: 0467 744 467

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762