Two years ago, Richelle Watson stood in front of a classroom of children, her heart racing and her palms sweating. She looked to her Community Action Support mentor for guidance, then plunged into her first day of teaching.
This achievement would not have been possible without the Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation program which helped Richelle, an Aborigine whose native language is Warumungu, learn to read and write.
Now, the children she teaches often climb over one another to show her their work, request games and ask her questions about herself.
Richelle is fortunate to be able to read and write, and teach others to do the same. The Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation’s co-founder, Kim Kelly, says only one in five indigenous children living in remote areas can read at the minimum standard, which includes words of just three or four letters.
“This means if you walked into a classroom of 20 children, only four would be able to read,” Kim says.
“This is not good. It is not good at all. Australia needs to do something now.”
The program Richelle credits for her newfound skills is one of many run by the Foundation to help combat this “shocking” statistic. Kim says the programs are designed to improve opportunities for aboriginal children by teaching them to read, so they can help others to do the same.
“We help kids to write their own future,” Kim says.
But there is more that can be done. Kim is calling on all Australians to grab some friends, a cup of coffee, a slice of cake and start swapping their old books as part of Australia’s Biggest Annual Bookfair on September 20.
These morning teas are fun way to recycle old books, while helping aboriginal children learn to read by raising funds for the Literacy & Numeracy Foundation.
“People are taking a new book home with them, to share with their families. They’re sharing and learning,” Kim says.
The Foundation has programs in place across Australia including the Northern Territory, Queensland and both regional and rural New South Wales.
More information and registrations visit www.biggestbookfair.com.au.
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