Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1994  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/05/1994   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Education >> Participation in Education: Education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Participation in Education: Education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in all levels of education is lower than for the total population but is increasing rapidly, especially among young people.

In the last decade the specific educational needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been addressed in a number of reports and policy documents. In particular the report of the Aboriginal Education Task Force, presented in 1988, identified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage in access to, and outcomes of, education. The report recommended a number of objectives and strategies including: parity in participation rates at all levels of education by the year 2000; encouraging participation in all fields of study, especially those which would benefit community development (health, architecture and building, agriculture, business studies, engineering, law, and the sciences); and increases in Aboriginal teachers at all levels. The Aboriginal Education Policy was launched in 1989 and updated for the second triennium (1993-1995) in 1993.

Although many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face barriers to their participation in education, the barriers may vary. For some, the problems are of discrimination or inappropriate education. For others, location may lead to difficult physical access to particular types of educational institutions. This review focuses on differences between people in rural and urban areas and on changes in educational participation and attainment in the last decade.

Participation
The rates of educational participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are lower than those of other Australians for all education levels. In 1991, 29% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 15-24 year olds were attending an educational institution compared to 46% of all 15-24 year olds. Equivalent figures in 1986 were 23% and 38% respectively.
Education participation rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people increased across all ages in the 15-24 years age group between 1986 and 1991. These increases were proportionally greater for those aged 18-24 years as a consequence of the increased rates of school retention to Year 12, as well as the increased likelihood that young people will continue their education beyond secondary level. Higher education participation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15-24 years is low relative to the total population aged 15-24 years, 3% compared to 12% in 1991. However, the rate more than doubled between 1986 and 1991.

EDUCATION PARTICIPATION RATES OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE AGED 15-24 YEARS

1986
1991


15-17 years
18-19 years
20-24 years
15-24 years
15-17 years
18-19 years
20-24 years
15-24 years
Type of institution
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Secondary school
40.8
2.6
0.2
14.7
46.6
5.5
-
15.5
TAFE
3.8
4.6
3.0
3.6
4.7
7.4
4.3
5.1
Higher education
0.4
2.4
1.5
1.3
0.7
4.5
3.4
2.8
Other
5.9
2.7
1.5
3.3
14.1
2.3
1.9
5.7
Total
51.0
12.3
6.3
23.0
66.2
19.8
9.6
29.1
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
Total Attending
8.8
1.3
1.4
11.4
11.0
2.3
2.5
15.8

Source: Census of Population and Housing


Higher education participation
The 1988 Aboriginal Education Task Force report recommended a target of at least 2.5% of Aboriginal people in higher education by the year 2000 compared to 0.6% in 1986. In 1991, 1.2% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were participating in higher education.

Between 1982 and 1987 the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people enrolled in higher education doubled, and between 1987 and 1993 the number almost trebled again to reach 5,580.

A further target recommended in the 1988 Task Force report was to increase the proportions of Aboriginal higher education students enrolled in post-graduate courses from 5% to 16% and in bachelor degree courses from 35% to 67%, with a view to reaching parity with all higher education students by the year 2000. By 1993, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in bachelor degrees had increased to 54% and in post-graduate courses to 7%.

Along with the substantial increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students between 1982 and 1993, the distribution of students across the different fields of study has become more diverse. While the proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in arts, humanities and social sciences, and in business and administration remained unchanged between 1982 and 1993, there was a shift away from education (48% of students in 1982 down to 31% in 1993) even though the number of students enrolled in education increased from 400 to 1,700 over the period. This distributional shift was compensated for by shifts towards health (increased by 7 percentage points), science (increased by 4 percentage points), law, and agriculture, forestry (both increased by 2 percentage points). This pattern of change is similar to that which occurred for all students.

LEVEL OF COURSE OF HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENTS

1982
1987
1993



Aboriginal students
All students
Aboriginal students
All students
Aboriginal students
All students
Level of course
%
%
%
%
%
%

Doctorate, master degree
0.6
7.3
2.0
7.8
3.5
10.8
Other post-graduate
2.2
9.1
2.6
8.6
3.7
8.4
Bachelor degree
(a)
65.3
35.1
67.0
53.8
74.7
Diploma or certificate(b)
97.2(a)
18.2
60.3
16.7
39.0
6.1
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
Total courses
0.9
340.2
1.9
394.0
5.6
575.6

(a) Bachelor degree and diploma/certificate not separately identified for Aboriginal students in 1982.
(b) Includes non-award courses.

Source: Department of Employment, Education and Training Selected Higher Education Statistics


FIELD OF STUDY OF HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENTS(a)

1982
1987
1993



Aboriginal students
All students
Aboriginal students
All students
Aboriginal students
All students
Field of study
%
%
%
%
%
%

Agriculture, forestry
0.4
1.8
1.4
1.8
2.3
1.9
Architecture, building
-
2.3
0.2
2.3
0.8
2.2
Arts, humanities, social sciences
33.5
24.8
34.9
24.6
34.8
22.4
Business, administration, economics
10.2
18.0
12.7
18.7
10.0
21.2
Education
48.0
22.5
38.3
18.6
30.7
13.4
Engineering, surveying
1.9
7.8
2.0
7.8
2.0
8.0
Health
1.7
5.8
4.6
9.6
9.1
12.4
Law
1.4
3.1
1.9
2.9
3.6
3.4
Science
2.9
13.7
3.9
13.2
6.6
14.7
Veterinary science
-
0.4
0.1
0.4
0.2
0.3
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

(a) Excludes non-award courses.

Source: Department of Employment, Education and Training Selected Higher Education Statistics



Attainment
Educational attainment is the level of education achieved by an individual. In population terms, educational attainment changes slowly over time in response to changing patterns of participation in education. A useful basic measure of educational attainment, particularly for those with no post-school qualifications, is the age at which they left school.

Between 1986 and 1991 there was some change in the level of schooling among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In 1986, 7% were reported as never having gone to school compared to 5% in 1991. The proportion of people who left school aged 17 years or more increased from 13% to 19%.

Differences in age left school were observed between geographic locations. In 1991, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in urban areas were more likely to have stayed at school longer than those living in rural areas. In addition, the proportion of people who had not attended school was considerably higher in rural areas than elsewhere. Although access to schooling, particularly beyond the compulsory years, may be more difficult for people living in rural areas, the association between geographic location and level of education is affected by population mobility. Some people from rural areas may move to towns and cities to complete their education but not return. This will result in higher levels of education in urban areas than in rural areas, both for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as well as for the population overall.

Between 1986 and 1991, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had left school aged 17 years or more increased for all locations. The proportions in urban areas increased by 7 percentage points (from 15% to 22% in major urban areas and from 13% to 20% in other urban areas) and the proportion in rural areas by 5 percentage points, from 11% to 16%. The proportions who had left school aged 19 years or more were similar in 1991 (about 3%) for all locations. This, coupled with the drop of 6 percentage points in the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in rural areas who had never been to school, suggests that, increasingly, young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are gaining access to at least basic schooling without having to leave their home areas.

In 1991, 21% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over (31,600) stated that they had a post-school qualification, compared to 40% of all Australians. Of those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who stated that they had a qualification, 3% had obtained a post-graduate qualification and a further 8% had a bachelor degree. In comparison, 7% of all Australians had a post-graduate qualification and 21% had a bachelor degree. 71% of qualified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had vocational qualifications, 48% classified as skilled and 23% as basic. Equivalent figures for the total population were 39% and 13%.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from urban areas were more likely to have a higher level of qualification than those in other areas. The pattern of qualifications by location was broadly similar to that for the population overall.

Although the 1988 report of the Aboriginal Education Task Force recommended encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to participate in fields of study which would benefit community development, it also stated 'The ultimate goal would be to have Aboriginal students enrolled in all higher education study areas to achieve parity in participation with the student population generally.'

Overall, of those who had a qualification in 1991, 26% were trained in engineering. This figure is, however, dominated by the quarter of all qualified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had skilled vocational qualifications in engineering, mainly trades qualifications.

57% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a post-graduate qualification were qualified in education while 42% of those whose highest qualification was a bachelor degree were trained in the society and culture field, which includes arts, humanities, social sciences etc.

There was very little difference between urban and rural areas in the fields of study for those who held qualifications, although health and education had a slightly higher proportional share in rural areas.

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE AGED 15 YEARS AND OVER BY AGE LEFT SCHOOL

Major urban
Other urban
Rural
Total




1986
1991
1986
1991
1986
1991
1986
1991
Age left school
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Under 17 years
76.9
69.8
75.3
70.1
66.9
68.2
73.0
69.4
17-18 years
13.8
19.3
12.0
17.1
9.7
13.6
11.7
16.6
19 years or more
1.0
2.7
0.9
2.6
1.6
2.8
1.2
2.7
Still at school
6.6
6.7
7.5
6.9
5.7
5.3
6.7
6.3
Did not go to school
1.7
1.6
4.2
3.3
16.1
10.1
7.4
5.1
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
Total
34.2
43.7
56.4
63.2
46.5
52.7
137.1
159.7

Source: Census of Population and Housing

HIGHEST QUALIFICATION OF PEOPLE AGED 15 YEARS AND OVER(a), 1991

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
All people


Major urban
Other urban
Rural
Total
Major urban
Other urban
Rural
Total
Highest qualification
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Higher degree
1.3
0.4
0.7
0.8
4.3
1.7
2.2
3.5
Post-graduate diploma
2.4
1.4
2.8
2.1
4.0
3.4
3.6
3.8
Bachelor degree
11.0
4.6
6.5
7.8
24.5
14.2
16.1
21.3
Undergraduate diploma
12.9
11.5
14.0
12.6
14.1
14.4
17.4
14.6
Associate diploma
6.2
5.9
5.9
6.0
5.0
4.7
5.0
4.9
Skilled vocational
45.5
50.3
46.8
47.6
36.0
48.1
42.4
39.3
Basic vocational
20.7
25.9
23.3
23.1
12.2
13.4
13.3
12.6
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

(a) Excludes those still at school.

Source: Census of Population and Housing.


FIELD OF STUDY OF QUALIFIED ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE AGED 15 YEARS AND OVER, 1991

Higher degree/diploma
Bachelor degree
Diploma/ associate diploma
Skilled vocational
Basic vocational
Total qualified
Field of study
%
%
%
%
%
%

Business and administration
5.1
8.9
10.5
0.5
36.7
11.5
Health
2.0
13.2
27.4
0.2
20.9
11.1
Education
57.4
22.1
34.0
-
0.5
9.8
Society and culture
22.3
41.5
20.0
4.5
9.3
11.9
Natural and physical science
6.3
6.6
2.1
0.2
2.0
1.6
Engineering
1.1
2.3
3.4
49.7
6.2
26.0
Architecture and building
0.3
1.4
0.3
25.6
3.9
13.3
Agriculture and related fields
3.7
0.6
0.9
2.7
2.6
2.2
Other
1.7
3.5
1.5
16.6
17.8
12.6
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0


Source: Census of Population and Housing


Teachers

In the 1970s and early 1980s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were encouraged to enter the teaching profession at all levels to give other indigenous people mentors and role models. In 1988 the Aboriginal Education Task Force report still identified this as an important factor in encouraging indigenous people to continue their education. The report recommended a policy of achieving a goal of 1,000 Aboriginal teachers by 1990. In the 1991 Census, 946 Aboriginal persons identified as teachers, a rate of 36 teachers per 10,000 Aboriginal people. This compared to 26 per 10,000 in 1986. Overall in 1991 there were 145 teachers per 10,000 of the total population.

In the total population, the rates per 10,000 for primary school teachers and secondary school teachers were both about 50. Rates for the Aboriginal population were not only much lower but also the pattern was different with 10 Aboriginal primary school teachers per 10,000 Aboriginal population and 5 Aboriginal secondary school teachers per 10,000. When the younger age structure of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is taken into account, the rates for primary and secondary school teachers are even lower at 57 and 38 respectively per 10,000 of the school age populations.

TEACHERS PER 10,000 POPULATION, 1991



Source: Census of Population and Housing



Previous PageNext Page

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window


Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.