We spoke to Adongwot ‘AD,’ Manyoul, a young South Sudanese woman and founder of ‘AM,’ about the importance of culturally appropriate education for African Australians and how this relates to her work in community development as a cultural consultant.
Systemic barriers have a significant impact on a young person and child’s education when they don’t receive equity in education. Adongwot addresses this through her work and provides insights into how diversity in the education system is vital to the nourishment of African Australians to feel safe at school and have an opportunity to reach their full potential.
Can you tell us about yourself and how you engage with equity in education through your work?
I am Adongwot Manyoul, and I am actively engaged in promoting equity in education and advocating for diversity and inclusion in various social settings. I am the Founder and CEO of ‘AM,’ a social enterprise that aims to change the dialogue around racism, diversity, and inclusion. I also serve as a board member of Youth Development Australia (YDA), and am a member of the newly formed Victorian African Communities Committee (VACC).
How does your experience in community development and communications shape your current work?
I use my first-hand experiences navigating the education system as a migrant, coupled with academic standing and knowledge through my double bachelor’s degree in communication in Journalism and Arts in International Studies background, to address issues within the community.
I provide bi-cultural consultancy to community organisations, non-profit organisations, councils, government agencies, and educational institutions to better understand how to interact with different cultures in an effective and meaningful way. Additionally, I have a reputation for hosting youth conferences, such as the Youth Futures Summit, the National Children and Youth Homelessness Conference, VicHealth’s first Future Reset Summit and the first African-Australian Student Conference.
Why is it important? How does the work that you do address inequity from the perspective of African Australians?
Currently, African-Australian students have the highest rates of dropping out and a growing stream of school to prison pipelines. The work I do is crucial because it focuses on addressing systemic barriers and disadvantages faced by young African students in the Australian education system.
In advocating for equity and inclusion, I aim to create an environment where all students, regardless of their background, can thrive and reach their full potential within the broader Australian community. This is achieved by equipping teachers with the tools and know-how in how to effectively support students of African and minority backgrounds.
“In advocating for equity and inclusion, I aim to create an environment where all students, regardless of their background, can thrive and reach their full potential within the broader Australian community.”
Can you tell us about how your research and work are vital to equity in education?
I received The Peter Mitchell Churchill Fellowship in 2019 which (I was able to complete in 2023 due to the pandemic), to investigate ways in which Africans have been integrated into Western multicultural societies, with a special focus on the education system.
“My research aims to develop authentic and effective approaches to supporting African Australian children in the education system, helping them not only survive but thrive.”
My research aims to develop authentic and effective approaches to supporting African Australian children in the education system, helping them not only survive but thrive. By addressing these issues, I contribute to greater equity in education for African Australians.
How can schools in Australia ensure a better education for African diaspora?
Schools in Australia can ensure a better education for the African diaspora by implementing culturally responsive teaching practices, offering support for English language learners, including diverse curriculum content reflecting African heritage, and engaging with African communities to understand their unique needs and challenges. My research and consultancy work can help schools in this regard.
“Schools in Australia can ensure a better education for the African diaspora by implementing culturally responsive teaching practices.”
Why do we need African-specific bi-cultural consultation for Australian teachers to provide better experiences for African Australians?
African-specific bi-cultural consultation is essential because it helps Australian teachers understand the unique cultural backgrounds, experiences, and challenges of African Australians. This understanding allows educators to create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment that respects and values the diverse cultural identities of African students, ultimately improving their educational experiences.
The ‘Bi’ in bi-cultural consultancy means that I support not only white Australia navigate the needs of minority communities, but I also work equally with African and minority students and communities to empower the community to better advocate for themselves.
“African-specific bi-cultural consultation is essential because it helps Australian teachers understand the unique cultural backgrounds, experiences, and challenges of African Australians.”
What do you hope to achieve through your work with schools?
Through education, I aim to empower educators and with the knowledge and tools they need to address issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the classroom. I hope to inspire participants to adopt innovative teaching methods, support students from diverse backgrounds, and contribute to a more inclusive and equitable education system in Australia.
Through education, I aim to empower educators and with the knowledge and tools they need to address issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the classroom.
Bring your experience and perspective on equity in education for Australian classrooms! Join a national discussion on how every child in Australia can have access to inclusive, high quality public education at The Bridging the Divide Summit.