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A Share in the Future . . . Only for Those Who Become Like ‘Us’!: Challenging the ‘Standardisation’ Reform Approach to Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 May 2017

David Spillman*
Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University, Parramatta campus, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith NSW 2751, Australia
address for correspondence: David Spillman, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University, 85 Wimmers Hill Rd, Milford, Queensland 4310, Australia. Email:
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The global standardization reform movement in education has seduced many Indigenous education policy makers in Australia, providing a powerful neoliberal discourse to further consolidate their focus on Indigenous educational deficit. A Share in the Future, the latest review of Indigenous education in the Northern Territory is an exemplar in this regard. This paper offers a brief exposition of this review, highlighting how an exclusive focus on comparative statistics and standardised testing of English literacy and numeracy works to maintain the coupling of ‘Indigenous’ and ‘deficit’, reifying colonial power relations and justifying technical and bureaucratic educational approaches, administered and monitored from afar. Such an approach is unable to adequately respond to the relational, cultural and linguistic complexities and nuances of local Indigenous education contexts. The educational assumptions and propositions of A Share in the Future will be juxtaposed with those of the Cross-Cultural Collaboration Project, undertaken in the Northern Territory in 2008, to consider alternative ways of successfully engaging these local educational complexities.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s) 2017 

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