Julia Gillard has pledged $2.3 billion to improve indigenous education, to close the gap between Aboriginal and non-indigenous students.  
29 Dec 2008 - 7:28 AM  UPDATED 23 Aug 2013 - 11:52 AM

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard has pledged $2.3 billion to improve indigenous education, in an effort to close the gap between Aboriginal and non-indigenous students.

Saying she was "hit in the guts" by the extent of illiteracy among students in remote areas, she promised to slash red tape and allow educators more flexibility to pursue policies that work, instead of endless pilot programs "that never end up making a system-wide change".

Ms Gillard, who is also the Education Minister, said addressing disadvantage was a higher priority for the Rudd government than an indigenous bill of rights, as proposed by Aboriginal leader Pat Dodson.

"There is a big gap in life expectancy, in educational attainment, between indigenous Australians and non-indigenous Australians," she said.

"That is our focus, not a bill of rights, but practical action to close the gap."

In an interview with The Australian on Sunday, Ms Gillard said the government\'s total education spending under Council of Australian Governments reforms, the recent schools assistance legislation and other indigenous measures will top $2.3 billion over the next four years.