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Australia pledges more teachers for Aboriginal Outback
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    CANBERRA, Australia — Determined to prove that a national apology to Australia’s indigenous population is more than empty words, the government on Thursday promised more teachers to tackle widespread illiteracy in Outback Aboriginal communities.
    Prime Minister Kevin Rudd won international acclaim Wednesday by leading the Parliament in apologizing for racist assimilation policies that prevailed throughout most of the 20th century.
    An estimated 100,000 children were forcibly taken from their parents between 1910 and the 1970s in an effort to make them grow up like white Australians.
    ‘‘This is a story about Australians — human beings— who were ripped apart over the better part of a century, and it was time the nation’s Parliament said: ’That was crook (wrong), let’s acknowledge it and let’s move on,’’’ Rudd told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television Thursday.
    Rudd has refused to pay compensation to the tens of thousands of families who were torn apart, but he has set bold targets to remove inequalities in living standards.
    On Thursday, his deputy Julia Gillard introduced legislation to the Parliament that would pay for an extra 50 school teachers this year in the Outback of the Northern Territory. No figures were immediately available on current teacher numbers.
    The $58 million plan would provide an additional 200 teachers in this remote northern frontier over four years.
    ‘‘If we are to encourage these young indigenous people to come to school, we need to have enough teachers ready to teach them,’’ Gillard told Parliament when introducing the legislation, which will be voted on within months.
    There are now about 450,000 Aborigines in Australia’s population of 21 million. They are the country’s poorest group, with the highest rates of unemployment and illiteracy. Their life expectancy is 17 years shorter than that of other Australians.
    Most Aborigines in these drug and violence-ridden communities scattered across tropical and desert wilderness survive on welfare and many struggle with the English language. Truancy is rampant.
    The Australian newspaper said in a front-page editorial Thursday that the spirit of Rudd’s apology is ‘‘dishonored if the current generation cannot devise new and better policies to lift the conditions of indigenous peoples.’’
    ‘‘Expectations Rudd has created for his prime ministership are huge,’’ the newspaper said.
    The apology was Rudd’s first parliamentary act since his center-left government was elected in November last year after 11 years in opposition.

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