Students from Kiwirrkurra Remote Community School are gaining generations of Indigenous knowledge about native animals on Country through a deadly two-way science program.
The Kiwirrkurra rangers are working with Kiwirrkurra Remote Community School to provide a hands-on education about the native animals in the area.
Indigenous Desert Alliance threatened species ecologist Rachel Paltridge said this was a strong, staple program between the rangers and the school.
“Every term we have a bush planner meeting where we get together the rangers, the school staff and the Aboriginal teachers at the school and we talk about what’s happening for the next term,” she said.
“We talk about what’s coming into season, what the rangers are going to be doing that we can work with the school and also a lot about the bush foods that are going to be around for the term”
During the sunnier first term of school, the rangers take the students out to see the tjalapa, or great desert skink, sites Ms Paltridge said.
“We take the students out with us to the tjalapa sites and the ladies teach them the cultural significance of tjalapa,” she said.
“We teach them the dreaming song and story so they know the importance culturally.
“Also we teach them how to recognise tjalapa burrows from other species, so looking for their tracks and scats.”
Kiwirrkurra school principal Jason Van Poelgeest said the program has been key way of including Indigenous culture and knowledge within an otherwise Western curriculum.
“Schools operate from a Western-based education with a strong Western focus,” he said.
“Historically over the years, Indigenous knowledge has not been included in the curriculum and this is a way of addressing that.
“The two-way science program helps to incorporate Indigenous knowledge into the program and more importantly bring families and the community into the school to teach that knowledge as well.”
In an attempt to keep students focused and attending school, Mr Van Poelgeest said the level of engagement increased during the science program.
“There’s a big difference sometimes they might find it difficult to do something that takes place in the classroom,” he said.
“But once they work with two-way science and importantly once they are speaking in their own language and doing thing in their own language, the engagement levels increase incredibly and they get incredibly interested in what they’re learning about.”
Mr Van Poelgeest said the students were gaining important cultural knowledge and a career pathway.
“It’s incredibly important because the passing of the knowledge to the next generation is of utmost importance to them,” he said.
“The other aspect of it too as the kids move through the education and they graduate from high school, one of the main employers in the community is the ranger program.
“So the key to getting all this education around ranger work and two-way science and Indigenous knowledges, they’re able to actually earn employment once they leave high school.”
An impertinent way for students to gain employment, the Kiwirrkurra rangers will continue to provide two-way science teaching in terms three and four this year.