PROBLEMS FACED BY COMMUNITY LANGUAGE SCHOOLS USING GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS
There have always been some issues with Community Language Schools using Victorian Government property and infrastructure. Some are acceptable since the inadequacies are affecting day students also and are also marked by the education system for improvement. However there are particular issues only affecting Community Schools because of the hours they’re operating, or the way that they’re being treated by school staff.
Here we’re trying to outline some of the issues with the hope that sometime in future they’re being seriously addressed. If any evidence is required about these issues we can always supply it.
- Issue with lighting – Community language schools are usually operating after day school hours. This means that for about 6 months in a year, they would be operating in evening or night conditions as opposed to the day school hours. We have several schools reported that do not have adequate lighting around the perimeter of the school and students going out on recess are in danger of either tripping on an object they cannot see, hard to find when a teacher may be looking for them and in general student safety is being put in danger unnecessarily. We also have had a case where an intruder entered a class using an open window during class time.Proposed Solution: The simple answer is to put enough lights around the school perimeter to be used by after hour community schools.
- School Facilities – Community language schools in many cases are not allowed to use Day school facilities. These could be school danger alarms, school first-aid including defibrillators, school wi-fi, school storage areas. In this way community schools are asked to bring along First-Aid kits, loudspeakers, own wi-fi equipment as well as teaching material. As a result staff are overburdened with equipment and injuries reported often.Proposed Solution: Community language school students should have the same rights as their day school counterparts. They should not be put into danger’s way, they should have all facilities provided by the government available to them and the well-being of teachers as well as students should be of primary importance and a goal for the government and the Department of Education to address.
- School Cleanliness – Reality is that students don’t always take instructions of placing their rubbish in bins. They are learning and cleanliness should be part of their curve to become responsible citizens. When Community language schools enter classes after school hours they find a great deal of rubbish in and around classes as well as the school. Successive Victorian governments has tried to resolve this issue in the past, but to-date we have no decisive and permanent solution. As a result when Community language school students enter classes they need to shift rubbish around and be very careful in using the bathrooms because there is urine on floors, latrines are very dirty, toilet seats could be either broken or soiled, making the whole school area a health hazard. Also at Community language school hours, we have had cases where cleaners arriving to clean the bathrooms and students visiting them at the same time find a strange adult person inside they are not sure of their intentions. We should never have a student facing an adult in the bathrooms unless the adult is either a teacher or a person known to the student.Proposed Solution: There is no easy solution to this problem. Also each school has its own operating times which hinders a blanket solution. Each day school should be looked at as a separate case and parent groups should be consulted before the answers will have a lasting effect.
- VCE Examination levels – Migrants to Australia have come in waves. Recently, due to the economic situation in Greece, a number of new arrivals have come to Victoria with their families, or families that have an Australian connection and stayed in Greece for more than 5 years are returning. Children from these families have enrolled into local schools and as a result have been taking part in Victorian Certificate of Education examinations in the Greek language. As it is logical these students have excellent Greek language skills and the way that VCE examinations are being marked they have affected Australian students of Greek origin who wish to get a VCE result given their second language skills. There has been a lot of discussion on the subject, to the point where the Department of Education & Training has taken notice and through ESAV (Ethnic Schools Association of Victoria) and Community Languages of Australia they have engaged into discussions on what can be done. GLaCS is supporting every move that the Department, ESAV and CLA is undertaking in trying to make the system fairer in view of realities and the changing circumstances. However, as a group directly concerned with Greek Language VCE examinations, we would like to (a) know what the government is proposing and (b) have the opportunity to voice our opinion about the process.
Proposed Solution: More than one level at VCE Greek examinations
Generally now, school councils should include a member / or members of the Community language school operating at Government School premises, during school council meetings. In this way, problems faced by Community language schools can be discussed and possibly addressed should the school council agree. This is a necessity we believe the Department of Education should act upon straight away. Community language school representatives should also have the same rights (voting or otherwise) as any other member of the school council.
Additionally, GLaCS is here to play a role that will assist existing organisations like ESAV and CLA in their already successful campaigns to regulate and organise Community language schools. We represent about half the student population in Victoria learning the Greek language and are ready and waiting for the opportunity to show where we can contribute.