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Smiles all round for Wilcannia’s first adult literacy graduates

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Wilcannia's 'Yes I can!' literacy program graduates
Wilcannia's 'Yes I can!' literacy program graduates
6 Sep 2012

The Wilcannia community has congratulated the first 10 graduates from the new “Yes I Can!” Indigenous adult literacy program.

Originally run in Cuba, the program was adopted as a pilot by the local Aboriginal Land Council.

Jack Beetson, on-site project leader and CEO of the Wilcannia Aboriginal Land Council said the ‘Yes I can!’ literacy pilot was a great success because students relate to the training style.

“We have learnt that it’s not only important to make training accessible, but also more personal so it relates to each student’s own experience,” Jack said.

“Timing is important for maintain attendance levels in the program - we’ve learnt that it’s more effective to run Indigenous adult training programs in the earlier part of the week as funerals and court are often held on Thursday and Friday.

“We started with 20 students and had a 50 per cent pass rate which is a very high rate of success for this type of initiative, Jack said. Some graduates are now keen to do post literacy activities while others want to learn how to use a computer,” Jack said.

Zoe Dobson, Wilcannia Remote Service Delivery coordinator, said she had never seen  graduates look so happy. “You could tell how proud they were by the smiles on their faces,” Zoe said.

University of New England associate professor Bob Boughton, who led the project, said the Cubans introduced an innovative alphanumeric approach when they designed the “Yes I Can!” program.

“This involves the learners first associating each letter of the alphabet with a specific number.

“They found that many non-literate people do have basic numeracy skills and can learn their letters more easily when associating them with a number,” Bob said

Twenty students have  enrolled in Wilcannia’s next adult literacy course.

Find out more

The Australian Government supports Closing the Gap in Indigenous literacy and supported the ‘Yes I can!’ literacy program through:

the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA).

the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations(DEEWR).
The pilot is part of a national campaign initiated by the Lowitja Institute in recognition of the proven links between literacy and health.