TEACHING life skills is as important as academics at Tiwi College, its former principal said at a meeting with Anindilyakwa traditional owners.
Ian Smith led the boarding school located at Pickataramoor on Melville Island for six years and still serves on its board.
He was on Groote in late January to speak with the Groote Eylandt Community School Reference Group, which is looking at setting up a similar school in the Groote archipelago.
Ian said Tiwi College was located far from the communities so that disruptions and distractions were minimal.
“The Tiwi wanted to have their students in a boarding setting, away from noise and dysfunctional aspects of community life and to set up a school of quality,” Ian said.
“The boarding experience allows kids to come to school and focus on being at school during the week, and come home on weekends so they have that balance of still immersing in culture.”
Students are housed in family group homes and the college helped them become “work ready”, he said.
ALC chair Tony Wurramarrba said the Reference Group was looking at options to “save” Anindilyakwa youth.
“Our school attendance is still terrible and we need to do all we can to ensure our young people have a future,” he said.
He said the current school system on Groote was not working as many families did not send their children to school every day.
“We want to find something that works for our people,” he said.
A boarding school would be set up so parents that wanted to visit children could go there and stay.
The group discussed a remote location on Bickerton Island.
IMAGE: The Groote Eylandt Community School Reference Group meets for the second time to discuss setting up a remote boarding school in the Groote archipelago.