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School Attendance by Australian Aborigines Linked to Aid to Parents



For VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.

Parents in South Australia's Aboriginal areas may lose some of their financial aid if they do net send their children to school. New rules link school attendance with government assistance to people living in poverty. Warren Mundine is Prime Minister Tony Abbott's top advisor on issues concerning Aboriginal Australians or Aborigines. He disagrees with linking the aid to school attendance. Instead, he urges the government to find ways to improve attendance without punishing parents. He says he thinks strong, punitive measures should be the last plan of action. Mr. Mundine says the situation can change if tribal leaders support education. He says the government needs to work with parents and communities to make what he call a 'massive cultural change". Other officials argue that the threat of stopping aid will force families to take education more seriously. In South Australia State, only 50 percent of children stay in school after the age of 15.

In some areas, as many as 90 percent of Aboriginal children struggle to read and write. The state government says it has special programs for Aboriginal students. It says students work with their parents and teachers to develop a personal learning plan and reexamine it every year. Public schools also have people available who can work individually with Aboriginal students who need extra help. and there is a program that helps Aboriginal students deal with the change from middle school to high school. About 670,000 Aborigines live in Australia. The state of Western Australia also has special programs for these native peoples and other groups.