Aboriginal education is millions of years old and is fixed in tradition and culture. British settlement and colonisation bought many changes to the Aboriginal way of life. Education systems were created in each of the states of Australia in the second half of the nineteenth century, the colonial government assumed some responsibility for ‘educating’ Aborigines by establishing a school in 1814 expressly for the purpose of making Aboriginal people conform with the British culture of the day. Colonizers planned to use education as a controlling mechanism through which Aboriginal families would conform with British social norms.
The school failed. Some suggest in hindsight that three factors contributed to this:
a) Elders feared that the school was destroying Aboriginal values and did not give their support;
b) Students found the curriculum irrelevant; and
c) British colonists resented government expenditure on Aborigines whom they believed to be inferior.
The same factors could be applied to education for Indigenous students today - over one hundred and eighty years later, they are still fighting for equality.