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Introducing Yachad

Accelerating Better Future for Indigenous Young People!

The Yachad Accelerated Learning Project is designed to improve outcomes and address inequalities in Indigenous and Remote education. The Project leaders are Prof Marcia Langton AM of the University of Melbourne and Dr. Zane Ma Rhea of Monash University. Helene Teichmann of HTT Associates is the Convenor of the Yachad Accelerated learning Project.

The Yachad Accelerated Learning Project is designed to improve outcomes and address inequalities in Indigenous and Remote education. The Project leaders are Prof Marcia Langton AM of the University of Melbourne and Dr. Zane Ma Rhea of Monash University. Helene Teichmann of HTT Associates is the Convenor of the Yachad Accelerated learning Project.

The Project is modelled on Israeli pioneered programmes, proven over more than twenty years, to combat patterns of educational disadvantage through accelerated learning, empowerment and community involvement, rather than conventional remedial approaches.

In January 2003 Prof. Marcia Langton travelled to Israel as the Inaugural National Australia Bank Yachad Scholarship Fund Fellow to investigate Israeli approaches to systemic disadvantage.

Upon her return to Australia, Prof. Langton discussed her findings in a number of fora including a speech" given at the Philanthropy Australia Conference in March 2003 and at an Arnold Bloch leibler/National Australia Bank Boardroom luncheon in April 2003. It was at this luncheon that The Pratt Foundation and Argyle Diamonds committed funding in order to bring Israeli accelerated learning pioneers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to Australia for the purpose of establishing whether their methodologies were applicable in the Australian context.

A team of five Israeli educationalists came to Australia in February 2004 to meet with stakeholders, visit proposed Project sites, assess the situation and make recommendations. Although the main focus of their visit was to be communities in the East Kimberley they also met with Noel Pearson in Cairns and Paul Briggs in Shepparton, Victoria, with the result that all three locations are now committed to implementing the Pilot Project.

The contribution of the Israelis and the work of the Project team have led to a commitment from communities, schools and local employers to establish pilot teacher training and class room programs over the next three years in the East Kimberley, Far North Queensland and Shepparton, Victoria.

In the East Kimberley the Yachad Accelerated learning Project will operate at Halls Creek District High School and potentially the Red Hill Primary School. In Shepparton the Project will work in four schools; Gowrie Street Primary School, Mooroopna Primary School, Shepparton High School and Wanganui Park Secondary College. Western Cape York College will be the North Queensland site for the Yachad Project.

The Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training has committed $3 million over three years for the Project. In its early stages the Project also received a small grant from the Commonwealth Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, through the Employment Innovation Fund, to develop pathways to work via an Employer Forum in the East Kimberley for future Yachad Project students.

The Yachad Accelerated learning Project was officially launched in Melbourne by the Minister for Education, Science and Training the Hon. Dr. Brendon Nelson MP on 26 August 2004. Mark leibler AO of Arnold Bloch Leibler hosted more than 100 guests for the launch. The Minister was joined on the podium by Prof. Marcia langton AM, Paul Briggs, President of the Rumbalara Football and Netball Club (Shepparton Victoria), Helene Teichmann, Brendan Hammond, Managing Director of Argyle Diamonds, Dr. Zane Ma Rhea and Bob Beard, National Australia Bank General Manager, Business and Financial Services, Victoria and Tasmania. Prof. Elite Olshtain of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Prof. Noel Pearson of the Cape York Institute sent recorded messages of support to the launch.

Support for the Project reaches across Australia to include Aboriginal leaders and communities, Melbourne and Monash Universities, Jewish community organisations and leaders, Israeli educationalists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, philanthropic Foundations, including The Pratt Foundation, the Victor Smorgon Charitable Foundation, The Nordia Foundation, the Gandel Foundation, the Jack and Robert Smorgon Family Foundation and the Rio Tinto Foundation. The Corporate funders are the National Australia Bank and Argyle Diamonds. Pro bono project advice and facilitation has been generously provided by Hindal Corporate, Arnold Bloch Leibler and HLB Mann Judd.

In the second year, the Project will extend to New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. At this stage all agreed sites coincide with COAG sites.

Ongoing formative evaluation will occur every three months and will be conducted by Dr Zane Ma Rhea and Monash University, Prof Marcia Langton and The University of Melbourne, the Israeli experts, led by Prof. Elite Olshtain of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as well as the Department of Education, Science and Training. Formal evaluation will be conducted by the above team each year.

It is intended that during the course of the Project a select group of Australian teachers, trained within the Yachad Accelerated Learning Project, will travel to Israel to undertake further, intensive studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, under Prof. Elite Olshtain.

There will be an international conference held in Melbourne in January 2007, which will bring together accelerated learning experts from around the world.

To date the Israeli programs have been successfully implemented in parts of China, Hong Kong, Italy and most recently 50 Vietnamese teachers were trained by experts from the Hebrew University and have implemented those approaches in Vietnam.

The Hebrew University methodologies are applicable from pre-school, primary and secondary levels, and include the well known HIPPY programme, which has an excellent track record in Australia.

The success of the accelerated learning programs depends upon specially trained teachers who believe that everyone should be taught the standard curriculum, having regard to cultural difference, and that everyone is inherently capable of achieving normal educational outcomes.

The Yachad Accelerated Learning Project is about the context of teaching and learning, understanding the lifeways of students from rural and remote communities, about pedagogical approaches that will ensure that teachers are confident to deliver the curriculum, and extra school hours for weak students. Developing appropriate curriculum that enables students to learn new concepts in Maths and English is a special skill in a multilingual classroom, a reality which Israeli Team Leader, Prof. Elite Olshtain, has addressed in her published literature and in her developmental education programs in a number of countries.

One of the goals of the Project is to ensure that weak students are not slipstreamed out of the school, as a result of a failure to identify such weak students, at a stage when it is still possible to bring them up to date with the standard curriculum and support them in achieving the national standard in literacy and numeracy against established benchmarks.

The Project's collaborative work plan for the next three years brings together Israeli Teacher Training Facilitators with teachers and school communities and is designed to ensure that the social capital of students, families and school communities are harnessed in a focussed, outcome-driven project.

The key principle of the Project's approach is a belief that every child can learn the standard Curriculum, and that every child is special. The challenge is to focus on the capacity of each teacher and each child to achieve education targets as if it were their basic right rather than a goal beyond their means.

Between January and April 2005, the Israeli Project team will work collaboratively with selected teachers in the 3 pilot sites, in the first instance, to identify the lowest 25% of students in their class; to develop appropriate materials and pedagogical interventions and, the plans for the implementation of the program. They will work with the teachers to plan for both the successful reintegration of this group of students back into the mainstream class and subsequently, for the teachers to use the accelerated learning principles with the whole class.

For further information

Contact  :  Helene Teichman
Phone  :  03-9654-1116

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