EIGHTY PER CENT of funding for community language education is being spent teaching Italian in Catholic schools.
WA multicultural minister Mike Nahan, who’d ordered a review into the $1 million program, has criticised the WA education department for the imbalance, saying it has “not run this program well”.
“The Italian community has an after-school program, and that is great,” Dr Nahan told the WA parliament.
“However, 80 per cent, or just shy of $800,000 of that $1 million goes to the Italian insertion program run by the Italo–Australian Welfare and Cultural Centre, which hires teachers to teach Italian in Catholic schools and in eight public schools—not after school, but in schools.
“That is a large share of the money.”
The Polish Ethnic School in Maylands is “cautiously optimistic” a proposed shake up will see education for other languages better resourced.
School coordinator Monika Dudek-Brown says the report “identifies what Polish Ethnic School has known for a long time: there is a disparity in funding received by community language schools in WA compared to other Australian states”.
“There is an urgent need for community language schools to receive more education support in the form of access to teacher development and training and curriculum expertise,” she says.
But Ms Dudek-Brown doesn’t want to see the “well-established and successful” Italian program’s “demise”, saying the WA government should consider continuing to fully fund it, it via another channel. Maylands Labor MP Lisa Baker wants the overall language program budget increased.
The not-for-profit Polish Ethnic School was established in 1952 and has 55 students. It receives $65 per child in WA government funding, capped at 47 students this year, a fraction of what Victoria ($190), SA ($140) and NSW ($123.40) pay per student head.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK