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SA's ethnic schools to expand under languages initiative

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South Australia’s ethnic schools network will be expanded to allow more students to study secondary language into Year 12 as part of a suite of measures announced by the State Government today.

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Education Minister John Gardner said the government was working with the state’s Ethnic Schools Association to ensure more schools offered out-of-school-hours language programs beyond the primary-years level as part of its push to return the state’s SACE Stage 2 language enrolments above 2000.

As InDaily previously reported, the proportion of South Australian students choosing to study a language in Year 12 has fallen by more than half in the past 10 years, prompting a staffing overhaul of the Education Department’s languages team at the beginning of this year.

Data from the SACE Board shows there were just 1207 Year 12 students studying a language last year.

There are just under 100 ethnic schools in South Australia – most of which are volunteer-run – teaching 48 languages to students regardless of their cultural background.

Gardner said he was working with the Ethnic Schools Association to increase the number of teachers working at the schools.

“Ethnic schools offer languages that aren’t always taught in the mainstream environment, but which are quite common in South Australia – whether that be Punjabi, Hindi, Tamil, whatever that may be,” he said.

“It’s about allowing these students to benefit from the educational advantages of learning a second language away from what they’re learning in the mainstream school environment.”

Gardner said while some ethnic schools already offer tutoring through to Year 12, he was working with the association to grow that number so that more students could study languages into senior secondary years. He said he was still in negotiations to figure out how many schools would be impacted.

As part of the Liberal Party’s push to increase language enrolments, the government will also introduce the International Baccalaureate program in four additional state schools. Glenunga International High School is currently the only South Australian public school to offer the program.

Other initiatives include introducing scholarships to secondary students to undertake overseas study tours, developing an Innovative Language Grants program for primary schools and conducting a review of language content in teaching degrees.

A State Government review of the SACE qualification is in its preliminary stages.

Gardner reaffirmed his pre-election promise that as part of the review, the government would consider the impact of cutting minimum study requirements for Stage 2 from five subjects to four.

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