Min. he’s a strange creature. Quirky, funny and my favourite nearly-4-year-old in the whole wide world. (absolutely no bias whatsoever) This is about his third week at Amata Anangu Preschool; an amazing place with so much wonderful stuff. Its so organic – inside its nearly all wooden toys; train sets, cooking sets, a light table to look at the collection of awesome bugs they have, a carpenters bench and an art area, then theres the story time room, which has a wiltja (shelter) of sorts and a beautiful area to sit and read a book. Then theres the outside, with this amazing creek thing for water play, which feeds into a mud kitchen!!! All this stuff makes me wish I was a kid! Tarsha the kindy teacher is amazing – last year the preschool celebrated achieving an “exceeding” score for all 7 of the National Quality Standards for Education. So basically what that means is that Tarsha and her Aboriginal Education Worker Josephine, are an incredible team, and this preschool is the shiz. Big time. So I was thrilled to be able to send Min – who absolutely LOVES it. Here in Amata the kindy kids do 4 days a week from 9-1 instead of the 2.5 full days they would in the city. they also start at 3 years old. I guess the reason for the shorter and more days is to reach as many kids as possible, to give them access to schooling. Education IS important here on the lands, and attendance is a constant battle. The thing is, from my perspective, is that cultural education is viewed by many Anangu to be as important, if not more so than white-man schooling. Which it is. Often kids don’t attend school because they are off attending ‘business’ – for initiation and such, but mostly lack of attendance is because there isn’t enough value placed on classroom education by parents, but in saying that, kids in the APY have been let down by the Education system for so long in so many ways, so its understandable. People like Greg, the principal, are working to change that. If only Anangu and Pirinpa (what the whitefullas are called up here) could really work meaningfully and harmoniously together to create a curriculum for the lands that values cultural education as well as western education. But that’s probably too simplified, as it’s a complex issue and I don’t have the answers. The teachers up here are largely amazing, who really want to help these kids get an education that will enable them to get the skills needed to perhaps work in, or even out of community – to walk in both worlds as it were. But that’s probably all for another post!!… Where was I? Preschool!! Its an absolute joy to be here at home and hear the bus pull up outside our house and the horn beep, to run outside and see the big doors open and my tiny little man hop off with a huge smile on his face, run into my open arms and give me a big hug, then turn to wave goodbye to his equally tiny classmates. Tarsha drives all the kids home in the bus, so that all the kids get home safely – I would never ever have even considered letting my little man take the bus home by himself in Adelaide, but here it’s a part of preschool life, and the kids love it! As it were, I’m sitting here at the dining room table typing, waiting for that bus to pull up any minute!! ….and there it is!!
Amata Anangu Preschool are on facebook! go give them some love!! https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CA4QFjAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FAmataPreschool&ei=RmfhVMT1CYuD8QXZ3IHADA&usg=AFQjCNFh7kAiQ3AlG2I508kRATxe9hpvqA&sig2=vZ_oGvb1eE5dAnjTQQeKSw