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Tiwi Education Board

’Tiwi future in Tiwi hands.’

The Tiwi Education Board (TEB) is the Tiwi Landowners’ policy making body for primary and secondary education on the Tiwi islands. It is comprised of up to ten senior Tiwi men and women who have a passion for children and education. It was established in February 2006, two years after a Committee of the Tiwi Land Council (TLC) was formed to investigate the feasibility of Tiwi people managing their own secondary school on the Tiwi Islands. The Tiwi Leaders were frustrated by the poor academic outcomes over the previous two decades from the existing schools. As with grandparents and parents throughout Australia and the world, Tiwi people expected that their children and grandchildren would receive a better education than they did. This did not happen so, as a result, the Tiwi took control of their own future by taking control of Tiwi education, starting with building their own secondary school.

A full feasibility study found that a Tiwi-owned secondary school would be viable, and initially recommended that the new school be built just outside of Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island. However, the Tiwi Leaders at the time, including Walter Kerinauia, Cyril Kalippa, Matthew Wonaemirri, Robert Tipungwuti, Andrew Tipungwuti and Pirrawayingi Puruntatameri along with the TLC, decided that the school needed to be built at Pickataramoor on Melville Island, away from the distractions and issues often found in the larger communities. 

The TEB and TLC Leaders successfully sought funding to build the Tiwi College from the Federal Government, Aboriginals Benefit Account, and Tiwi-owned businesses. They also received assistance from the Mantiyupwi Land Owning group, who allocated the land for the College and provided financial assistance along with Wulirankuwu.

The Tiwi College opened in 2008 and was operated by the Northern Territory Christian Schools Association until 2010 when the TEB took over full management and operations. The Tiwi College has expanded considerably since 2008 and provides quality education for more than 80 Tiwi students. Attendance is around 80 per cent, which is unheard of in remote, Indigenous secondary education.

A feasibility study looking at expanding the role of the TEB at Milikapiti and Pirlangimpi primary schools, followed by the primary and secondary schools at Wurrumiyanga and Ranku, is being undertaken.

The TEB is working towards achieving the vision for Tiwi education articulated by Tiwi Leaders more than 20 years ago, and continues to prepare Tiwi students for real employment, and full and rewarding lives.