"...The land will exist forever. It must be protected so that it will remain the same, so that it can be seen in the same way that the elders saw it in the past. Our vision and hope is that Yolŋu will continue to use the land for all generations to come.” Roy Dadaynga Marika, 1990. Dhimurru Vision Statement.
The Yolŋu children of north-east Arnhem Land are the future owners and managers of their land and sea. In time they will become the custodians of a rich tradition of songs, art and knowledge about their estates. Dhimurru has recognized that since its inception by providing regular opportunities for school children, especially Yolŋu children, to visit and learn about their culture and environment with traditional owners including Dhimurru Rangers.
In April 2013 Dhimurru and the Yirrkala School began the ‘’Learning on Country” program. The program aims to improve attendance of Yolŋu children at school, the readiness of students to take up satisfying and rewarding careers, and prepare the next generation of Yolŋu land owners to care for their estates which are of national and international significance.
Learning on Country is an exciting extension of regular ranger presentations to Yolŋu students at Yirrkala School. Students literally “learn on country” at events planned and delivered by senior Yolŋu, rangers, vocational education trainers and school teachers. Each event is followed up in regular classroom teaching that uses aspects of the ‘country’ as resources for student development, learning and academic achievement.
The use of Yolŋu country and traditions to inspire and guide Yolŋu student learning to the same standard expected by all Australians is known as “both-ways” education, an approach championed by the former Yirrkala School Principal and educational scholar, the late Dr M. Yunupingu.
The Learning on Country initiative is supported by the Australian Government’s Indigenous Ranger Cadetship Program and the Northern Territory Department of Education. Dr Jonathan Wearne was appointed as the Learning on Country Coordinator in April 2013.