Bridging the Literacy Gap: Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Students

Ariana Wilson, Global Philanthropy and Communications Intern

The importance of reading and comprehension of text cannot be underestimated. Not only does reading allow us to expand our vocabulary, writing skills, and acquire new knowledge, but it is critical for children’s development and their future. As the saying goes, “Today’s children are tomorrow’s future,” and it is necessary for us to invest in our children to ensure they can reach their highest potential, regardless of their family’s background.

Today’s children are tomorrow’s future.

 

In Australia, there is a large literacy gap between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous students; Many Indigenous students are behind their peers. Since 2012, Indigenous Reading Project (IRP) has been helping to reduce the literacy gap among Indigenous students.

IRP is helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders students improve their literacy skills through a 12-week E-reading program, followed by a Reading for Life (RFL) program for select students. With the help of teachers, IRP identifies Indigenous students between 8 to 16 years old who are regularly attending school, but are behind national benchmarks for reading ability and personal commitment  to improvement. As an incentive to encourage reading, the student can keep the tablet if there is a significant increase in their reading ability at the end of the program.

Since 2017, Lenovo’s monetary and product investments have helped IRP expand its services to Indigenous students.

In 2020, approximately 100 Indigenous students will be selected to participate in the E-reading program. While IRP is very selective and only able to accept a limited number of students each year, they are continuing to reach students across Australia in remote, regional, and urban areas.

In 2019, “168 out of 184 students successfully completed [IRP’s] E-reading program and checked out 2,916 e-books from the digital library.” “The students demonstrated a measurable improvement in their reading ability – on average, amount of time spent reading improved by 62%, fluency test scores 23%, and comprehension test scores 30%” (Indigenous Reading Project, 2019).

Students a part of Indigenous Reading Project’s E-reading program viewing their new Lenovo tablet.

IRP believes its success is largely due to the “partnerships built with families, school, and companies like Lenovo, who share [IRP’s] commitment to empowering [Australia’s Indigenous children],” said Daniel Billing, CEO of Indigenous Reading Project. “We believe education and learning are pathways to success; it is critical for us to improve students’ reading ability.

Lenovo’s investment in IRP of improving literacy skills among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is one example of how Lenovo is “bringing to life the Lenovo Foundation’s mission of empowering diverse and minority communities through access to technology and STEM education, alongside of Lenovo’s mission of Smarter Technology For All,” said Matt Codrington, Lenovo ANZ.

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