"Yes, I Can" a working model for Indigenous literacy

A mass literacy program developed in Cuba is being used in Wilcannia, far-west NSW to give Aboriginal students the foundation skills needed for further education and training.

Parliamentary Secretary for Skills, Sharon Bird, today joined the second group of students to complete the Yes, I Can program and presented them with their certificates in front of proud family and friends.

Ms Bird said the Australian Government funded the program to determine whether the internationally successful mass literacy campaign model could work effectively in Australia.

“I hope that this course gives graduates the skills, confidence and knowledge to go on to further education and training, to secure a job, or simply to access government services,” Ms Bird said.

“Congratulations to the students, the facilitators and the Wilcannia community for embracing the program so enthusiastically.

“The Australian Government is determined to build literacy and numeracy skills so every Australian has the chance to share in the benefits of our strong national economy.”

Yes, I Can is taught using an audiovisual delivery technique using correlations between numbers and letters that takes the personal situations of each student into account.

The course opens the way for students to engage in a range of post-literacy activities to help them gain the confidence to consider vocational and training pathways into employment or small scale enterprises.

The program, first developed in 2000, has since been run in more than 25 countries, including East Timor and New Zealand.  In Australia, it is being managed by the University of New England in partnership with the Wilcannia Local Aboriginal Land Council.

Cuba’s Ambassador to Australia, Mr Pedro Monzón Barata, also took part in the ceremony.