STUDENTS at the Boggabilla Central School and Toomelah Public School have been given a gift laden with literacy potential and culture.
Three Sydney directors of the Bawurra Foundation, Andres Aronsohn, Jesse Slok and Alexander Stonyer-Dubinovsky visited the communities to meet with elders and schools while donating eight Kindle devices.
The Bawurra Foundation is a not- for-profit organisation helping to improve literacy in Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander children while celebrating indigenous culture.
The foundation is building a digital library of community-made indigenous stories, songs, interviews and art that students are able to upload and share through donated Kindle readers.
“We wanted to create a digital library where schools could contribute their own stories, their own elders, and essentially create a digital community education resource preserving knowledge,” director Andres said.
Foundation director Jesse Slok attended Oxley High School in Tamworth where he worked on the Digital Elders project which was intended for inclusion in the education syllabus.
Jesse is now studying a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in professional business and entrepreneurship, and is looking to give back and celebrate his Kamilaroi culture.
While Digital Elders didn't make the cut for the syllabus the Bawurra Foundation have partnered with the Department of Education to include the Digital Elders in their community library.
The kindle delivery was met with great excitement by children and adults alike.
“A lot of these stories featured relatives of students at Boggabilla and Toomelah and it was really great to see them identify with them,” Andres said.
“They could see their relatives on the kindle and learn more about them,” he said.
Toomelah community engagement officer Carl McGrady believes the work the foundation is doing is invaluable.
“Our stories are invaluable to our people, and this program has found a way to bring them all together in the one place,” Mr McGrady said.
“The fact that it’s on a kindle, and interactive, the kids just love that.”
The foundation is keen to preserve the knowledge of the Elders, and acknowledge that as elders pass away their stories go with them.
The Bawurra Library is currently an application for Kindle’s, that the foundation hope will eventually be widely available for download.
“We love physical books, and we think they will always have a very important place in the classroom, but these new technologies have also allowed us to broaden the tools to engage and develop an interest and ability in reading,” Jesse said.
The Bawurra Foundation would love to hear from community members who have written a children’s book or have other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories, videos or artworks that could be added to the Bawurra Library, the foundation can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.