The David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research (DUCIER) at the University of South Australia has been awarded $7.5 million  from the Federal Government to research and implement ways of increasing the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers in Australian schools.


The project will explore the potential for growth in teacher numbers by analysing demographics, looking at how teaching is promoted as a career, how recruitment can be enhanced and fostered, and how to encourage the retention and development of Indigenous teachers as Principals and senior education administrators.


Lead researcher for the More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teachers Project is Professor Peter Buckskin, the Dean of DUCIER supported by Emeritus Professor Paul Hughes and Dr Kaye Price from the University of Southern Queensland.


Professor Peter Buckskin says the funding will provide an invaluable opportunity to develop a complete picture of what elements will garner and develop more Indigenous young people to become teachers and leading educators.


“We already know that while four per cent of students are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, only one per cent of teachers are Indigenous,” Prof Buckskins says.


“We want to lift those numbers and get a better understanding of both the impediments and incentives that may help to increase the number of Indigenous people entering teaching.


“Our goal for the research is that it will underpin the development of many more lndigenous teachers enriching the learning experience of all Australian children and in particular Indigenous children.”


Professor Buckskin said he was enthusiastic about the strong support being provided by the Federal Government for the project.


“With the implementation of a more culturally inclusive Australian curriculum and national standards for inclusivity on teaching, funding for this project could not have come at a better time,” he said.


“Longer term the work we do to unpack the elements that will inspire, encourage, recruit, retain and develop leadership in Indigenous teachers will be hugely significant for the Australian education system because it will build substance and authenticity into those national goals for inclusivity.”


Prof Buckskin said the research would look end to end at the path to becoming a teacher from the elements that support Indigenous students to complete high school, to the aspects that convince them to believe teaching to be a valuable career path.


“We will also be looking at the important steps between school and university and other non traditional pathways into teaching such as career changing and upskilling those qualified in other fields and also what elements will help to develop Indigenous teachers to become leaders in the profession,” he said.


The project will be undertaken over the next four years with a final report to be tabled and evaluated by 2015.