Address to NSW Community Relations Commission

September 22nd, 2011

Extract from our full speech notes.

1. The multi-faceted role of Education
Most of what I want to say focuses on a couple of questions about education and language and skills development. I am not going to go into the minutiae of the current English language programs that are available through the Adult Migrant Education Program and ESL. Suffice to say that these programs do not always result in participants acquiring functional English language proficiency, and this creates obvious problems for the future – for them and those with whom they interact. Also, since ESL- targeted funding was abolished in 2010 we no longer have national performance measures to cover ESL students. So we are in the dark about how school-aged new arrivals, as a cohort, are faring at school, and here too we could well be creating problems that will need to be addressed in the not too distant future when these students enter – or fail to enter – the workforce or higher education, and when the cost of dealing with the problems will be higher.
But I want to raise two broader questions. Do we need a new National Language Policy? If so, is there a case for incorporating education about values into it and, more broadly, into the new National Education Curriculum?

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