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Ratjpa Mala: Sowing seeds for learning

In the community of Galiwin’ku, some 550 km north East of Darwin, a group of men got more than they bargained for when they took part in a landscaping & gardening training course recently.

A common goal of all of the men who join the Ratjpa Mala class (In Yolngu language: Ratjpa: dark reddish/brown soil, Mala: group) is to learn skills in maintenance and landscaping that will help them find work, and because many of these men have a limited experience of education & employment they are also referred to the STEPS Skills for Education & Employment (SEE) program.

“Not all are excited to join the SEE program” explains STEPS trainer Sandra. “Many of the men start with quite a negative view about developing ‘ballanda’ skills such as reading and maths, but with some encouragement most will come along initially just to have a look”.

The photo above was taken during an activity around measurement. The men estimated certain distances, stepped it out, then measured using the trundle wheel. “We take every day tasks like this and turn them into learning opportunities” said Sandra. “When they see that the skills are relevant to them you can immediately see the change in attitude – and that makes everything we do worthwhile”.

Many of the men have said that they actually enjoy learning now – some have even mentioned they would like to do further training.

We are very happy for our Ratjpa Mala class and look forward to watching their confidence and ambitions grow!

The Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program logo.

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