This paper presents a model which weaves together an adaptation of Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological model (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, 1989, 1993) and the tenets of human agency theory (Bandura, 2001; Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 1996; Bandura, Pastorelli, Barbaranelli, & Caprara, 1999; Carlson, 1997), which are central to decision-making, self-regulation and self-determination. This model provides a framework to explain how non-Indigenous lecturers were able to work in culturally appropriate ways with community members in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, Australia, on a project which focussed on improving the literacy and numeracy skills of four-year-old children. The aim of this initiative was to enhance children’s capacity to engage with expectations on entry into formal schooling. There were multiple levels of engagement in the design and implementation of the project. For the positive outcomes to be sustainable it was imperative that the initiative be embraced by the community and that they see themselves, rather than the non-Indigenous stakeholders, as the key to its success. The project’s implementation is described in detail and outcomes are provided. These include the children demonstrating increased pre-reading and numeracy skills and, importantly, the engagement of the whole community in the project and the previously unqualified early childhood educators being motivated to complete a Certificate III in Children’s Services.


bio-ecological model, human agency theory, remote Aboriginal communities

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