The Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration
In December 2019, the Coalition of Australian Governments (COAG) Education Council released the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration. This is the latest in a suite of policy documents which outline the national education goals and commitments for the ten years following its release.
The Mpartnwe Declaration replaces the Melbourne Declaration (2008) and provides a renewed basis for the Australian Curriculum – the overarching framework for all curriculums and syllabuses in each of the states and territories.
The Mpartnwe Declaration has two distinct but interconnected goals:
The Australian education system promotes excellence and equity.
All young Australians become confident and creative individuals, successful lifelong learners, and active and informed members of the community.
Whilst these goals are remarkably similar to those of the Melbourne Declaration, the Mpartnwe Declaration places a renewed emphasis on addressing gaps in educational achievement, as well as preparing students, from an early age, to thrive in a rapidly changing and challenging world in order to ensure “the nation’s ongoing economic prosperity and social cohesion”.
A notable aspect of the Mpartnwe Declaration is the heightened emphasis on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in their learning. The Mpartnwe Declaration is a direct response to recent data that has shown the widening gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and non-Indigenous students. Through a commitment to supporting “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners to reach their full potential”, the Education Council outlines a path to address the disadvantages that these students often face.
Moreover, the Mpartnwe Declaration also calls for the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island history and cultural knowledge in the curriculum. In doing so, it is hoped that all students will be able “to engage in reconciliation, respect and recognition of the world’s oldest continuous living culture”.
The Mpartnwe Declaration emphasises the development of skills, such as critical and creative thinking; however, they are mentioned infrequently and imprecisely rather than articulated as explicit goals. Concurrently, there is a clearer focus on developing new methods of assessment to support better learning progress among students.
It is unclear as to how the Mpartnwe Declaration’s goals will be incorporated into schools and the broader education community. In 2009, the Education Council released a plan to direct state governments in supporting the achievement of the Melbourne Declaration’s goals. It is likely that a similar document will be developed for the Mpartnwe Declaration with a similar purpose.
Loreto schools are well-positioned to respond to the challenges identified in the Mparntwe Declaration. Principals and teaching staff continue to engage with the renewed Loreto Educational Philosophy and the Mary Ward Schools’ Compass as key documents which inform the development of high quality curriculum highlighting the principles of centrality of equity, excellence, inclusion, and justice.
 Mpartnwe (pronounced M-ban tua) is the Arrernte name for Alice Springs. The Arrernte peoples are the traditional custodians of Alice Springs and the surrounding region.