This is an update to yesterday’s article Did someone mention education funding?
I received another call today from the woman I had spoken to earlier in the week, let’s call her Ms J, who is helping us sort out the issue. Another long conversation, which I will try to summarise.
Basically, it appears we may have not been assessed correctly in June 2011. How did that happen? My GUESS is a couple of things. Firstly, like Miss O 1 not being able to do ESL as her English VCE subject based on “computer says no” (i.e. computer says Nigeria is an English speaking country, end of story), the assessors probably did the same thing. The two younger ones weren’t assessed at all, and it seems the people looking at Miss O 2′s English skills now believe that both the younger ones should have been assessed and NOT put in mainstream schools, but sent for intensive English classes. I am assuming the older two probably should have been as well. Secondly, lack of funding would have been an issue. More specific testing takes more time, more resources. That requires funding.
The access to the intensive English classes is only available for a period of time after arrival, technically the kids have now missed out and even if they hadn’t it would mean removing Miss O 2 from school for six months and placing her in classes in another (distant) suburb. The logistics of this would be impossible, as we would not be able to get here there and collect her as well as go to work ourselves. She is way too young to travel that distance by herself.
First up a warning: I am writing this as a mother. I am not a teacher, I am not trained in any aspects of the education department or system. I am a mother. I am also not criticising the schools the kids go to. They are great schools and are doing the best they can working within the system, policies, procedures and processes they have to work within.
I am a mother of four children who entered our public education system at various stages: years 3, 5, 8 and 10.
When the children arrived, we had the older ones tested to see if their English was of a suitable standard to allow them entry into mainstream schools. They were allowed entry into mainstream schools.
The younger two were not required to be tested, I gather the concept is that immersed in the local system, their English would rapidly improve.
We’ve been through various issues. Did Mr Year 8 have a hearing problem? About $200 later, no, he didn’t, he just needed extra help with English. This isn’t easily available, though. Outside school, he was too young for any of the government programs for migrants. This is the young man that put his head down and bum up and got himself into Maths A, so he isn’t dumb!
We had gone through the situation very carefully with both the schools. Yes, the children had attended school primarily in English, but it wasn’t the best English in the world. They needed to UNlearn then RElearn – makes life hard. One of the co-ordinators has recently told me students from Hong Kong have the same problem.
We discovered Miss Year 10 wasn’t allowed to do ESL as her English subject for Year 12 because officially she comes from an English speaking country. No, no, no. Miss Year 10 comes from a country where the official language is English, that is not nearly the same as an English speaking country. No provision for testing of language skills. Just treated the same as a kid from the USA or the UK.
In principle, I have no problem with the concept of user pays. I have a major problem if someone takes money and I get nothing for it.
There are costs involved in applying for visas. Here I am looking at Partner Visas for Australia. The current fees are set out below (current as at January 1, 2013).
The fees booklet is found at http://www.immi.gov.au/allforms/pdf/990i.pdf
I have a story to share that came to my notice last night. One of the readers of Love versus Goliath (the book) told me he knew how we felt. He was made to feel like a criminal for falling in love with an “Evil Oriental”.
Was this last year? Five years ago?
It was the early 1990s. Let us say twenty years ago in round figures. Twenty years ago and NOTHING HAS CHANGED!!!
Yes, I accept our case was slightly more unusual because Mr O was an asylum seeker. However, citizens DO have rights. This reader and myself had rights.
I asked him to write a guest article for this website. I found his response VERY SAD.
“I would love to, but after reading yours, too many emotions have surfaced and I don’t think I would have your strength to do it.”
The pain of his experience, after twenty years, is still so powerful the emotions were caused to resurface by his reading our experience.
I have chosen not to identify our reader here. He has experienced enough pain already.
I’ll make this very short, just an update on last night for those many people who were supportive.
Although I am yet to see and actual copy of a bill, I am told the amount covered the period January 2010 to June 2010. Mr O was whipped back into detention early April 2010. So at least two months is not his anyway, if anyone else was in the house.
I was reliably informed the “default” will stay on his name for life, even if we pay it, unless either DIAC or Red Cross formally advise they are responsible. Only in that circumstance can the default be lifted. Edit: I’ve just been told they only last 5 years – but that isn’t what I was told, but likely the customer service guy didn’t know any better than I do.
I don’t think I need to write how I feel. Yes, I have taken steps, but how long will this take? Can any reader tell me this is even remotely fair?
Of course, if you ALL go buy the book, that would help considerably.
I’ve sat on this article for a few weeks. Will I publish? Won’t I publish? Should I, shouldn’t I, sort of carry on.
Anyone my age will recall that corporal punishment was still the norm when we were young. The norm for our parents and grandparents generation. I used to be smacked with a three foot carpenter’s ruler or my father’s razor strop.
In Nigeria, corporal punishment is still the norm. Of course, when my family arrived here, they had to learn a whole new discipline methodology. This means not just Dad, but the children too.
I once watched a video about African parents raising their children in Australia and the difficulties they experience with the change required in discipline. Despite hunting for that video tonight, I can’t find it. It was very good. If anyone knows of it, please send me the link, as I would like to include it. The mother spoke of the struggles. The children, not understanding the differences, started to run amok and the parents were at a loss to control them. Kids would come home and say “You can’t tell me what to do, I can leave home in Australia!” This would be unheard of in most African countries. Dad’s relatives are always stunned he can’t “beat” the children here!
While I couldn’t find the video, I did find this (emphasis added):
Our children would then be able to see some kind of consistency between the rules implemented at home and those enforced at school or in the larger society. If we insist on doing otherwise, there are or may always be consequences. For example, instead of using corporal punishment as a disciplinary method as is practiced back home by some families, one needs to seek an alternative approach that is encouraged in the Diaspora. A couple of months ago as a follow-up to our discussions on the immigrant experience in the United States with some mothers in Maryland, I listened to one woman refer to her children as pirates, good for nothing idiots, and terrorists terms condoned in Cameroon, my country of origin, and even regarded as a display of maternal affection or endearment depending on the context of usage. I wondered what would have happened to this young mother and her family, if the four, six, and eight-year-old children had picked up the phone and called a social worker, or an American neighbor. Language like this is common usage in Cameroon, no doubt; however, in the Diaspora such language is not condoned and may be interpreted as a form of abuse. Such communication patterns have jeopardized the lives and/or welfare of several African immigrants in the Maryland and Washington D.C. areas as the participants I interviewed convey. Although they seemed frustrated about this, they have somewhat accepted this as a new reality within their community.