Aboriginal languages will become a new HSC subject from 2016 after a decade of planning.
NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli announced the move on Monday, saying the new course would “help maintain this critical part of Aboriginal cultures”, Fairfax Media reports.
Since 2005, students have been able to study Aboriginal languages from kindergarten to year 10.
From next year, Year 11 and 12 students can also study the languages – a positive move, according to University of Sydney Indigenous education lecturer John Hobson.
“There are quite a few people who want to progress to studying it in their HSC, but that hasn’t been possible and now it is, so that’s a great thing,” Mr Hobson told Mamamia.
He said the majority of students who studied Aboriginal languages were non-Indigenous and developed a greater appreciation of Indigenous culture, which they often shared with their families.
Mr Hobson – director of the university’s graduate indigenous education program, which trains Aboriginal people to teach their languages – says the study of Aboriginal languages also has wider benefits.
“A lot of schools when they implement Aboriginal language programs allow Indigenous students to get a head start for reasons of cultural sensitivity,” he said.
“It allows them to become the experts, gives them status within the school and ensures they don’t feel disenfranchised in terms of their culture. Then, the schools open up the course to everyone else.
“Those schools report better reconciliation outcomes and improved self-esteem for Indigenous students, which bleeds through to their other subjects.