Palm Island's Nazareth Youngblutt and student Ngaire Pearson
Palm Island's Nazareth Youngblutt and student Ngaire Pearson

Education program changing lives on Palm Island

AN early language and literacy program on Palm Island is reaping results and changing lives, an indigenous educator on the remote island says.

Nazareth Youngblutt, who has been at the forefront of early learning on Palm Island for decades, said the community had thrown its support behind the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation's early language and literacy program.

"A child that feels confident about their literacy will be a more confident member of the community," she said.

"I have seen kids who have gone through the program and most of them have jobs now. That is an incredible outcome."

Ms Youngblutt said the program was designed for indigenous communities.

"The program's whole-of-community approach strengthens the ability of educators and community members to teach their own children fundamental literacy skills, while increasing the skill sets, capabilities and engagement of participating adults," she said. "Early literacy and language programs are vital in our community.

"The program has made a difference and has impacted positively on lives.

"Parents are supporting the program and because of that children are ready to start school and learn."

Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation co-founder and co-chair Kim Kelly said families on Palm Island had a powerful vision for their children to be strong readers, writers and speakers.

"The foundation's early learning and literacy program has been part of the communities' vision for their children to step into education and shine," she said.

Ms Kelly said the foundation's early learning and literacy program had worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the Palm Island community since 2010.

"The program is targeted, specialised and community-driven," she said.

"It gives parents, educators and community members the tools they need to break the cycle of trans-generational illiteracy.

"Last year, testing indicated that 93 per cent of children who participated in our program improved their phonemic awareness, widely considered to be the vital precursor to reading and writing success.

"More and more children now start school ready to read, write and continue their educational journey."