One year after being forced to close due to COVID-19, Mamarapha College, a Seventh-day Adventist school for Indigenous Australians, has finally welcomed students back into its classrooms.
The government of Western Australia, where the school is located, had imposed regional borders within its state to ensure that remote, vulnerable Indigenous communities were not exposed to coronavirus.
This, in addition to state border closures, meant that students have not been able to attend the college in person.
During the closure, workbooks were posted to students, but holding virtual classes was difficult, especially for the remote students with limited internet access.
Mamarapha College principal David Garrard stated that the college was able to hold Zoom classes for its four pastoral students successfully. He also said that the college is “experimenting with recording classes that can be viewed via YouTube or USB if regional and state borders are reinstated.”
Having students back at the college was highly anticipated. “There was a lot of excitement for the staff and students,” Garrard explained. “We had a special prayer to thank God for His goodness and faithfulness to Mamarapha College during such a difficult time.”
The first study block has seen the arrival of 19 students, with the college confident these numbers will increase in future study blocks.
“For some students, it is a relief to be back, and it is a sign of things returning to normality,” said Darren Garlett, director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministries (ATSIM) for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia.
“Some students have been waiting 12 months for this day, with one new enrollment deciding to move from Queensland to Western Australia so he could study without worrying about border closures during study blocks,” Garlett, who is also a guest lecturer at Mamarapha College, added.
While teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students about the Bible, ministry, life skills, and health, Mamarapha College also recently introduced a new literacy course.
“We are looking forward to the time being spent with students and seeing how they allow God’s transformational power to take over their lives and the witness they will become to their families and community,” Garlett said.
Mamarapha College is set in the scenic bush surrounds of Perth’s orchard region in Western Australia. According to the school website, it is “a quiet, peaceful place where you can connect with God and grow in your walk with Him.”