This is treating them as if they have already been accepted as permanent residents. Will the schools have to hire Afghan interpreters?
UP to 60 asylum-seeker children will be enrolled in Darwin schools in a move that has angered some parents who claim they weren’t consulted.
The Immigration Department yesterday confirmed it was in discussions with Northern Territory education officials about getting the children, most of them Afghans, a proper education. A spokesman said it was important for their development that the children attend school.
But some parents have reacted angrily to the move, saying they were not consulted and that school resources were diverted to make way for the influx. One parent told ABC radio he only heard about the plan after receiving an email addressed to the Anula school council.
“We found out through the back door,” he said. “We were told nothing. The school council organised a meeting the previous Monday. The department never came to us to explain anything. No one’s consulted anyone.”
While the Immigration spokesman said it was too early to say which schools would be involved, NT Education Union’s Adam Lampe said he was advised last week that Anula Primary School and Sanderson Middle School had been selected to receive the children.
Anula principal Karen Modoo declined to discuss the proposal and directed calls to NT Education where the executive director of school education, Alan Green, said there would be community consultation and that only schools with room and dedicated English programs would be considered. “There’s no question of us cramping kids into Anula or any other school,” Mr Green said. “They’ll only go there if they fit.”
Mr Lampe said educating the asylum-seeker children was a “great initiative”. “These kids need to be taken care of,” Mr Lampe said. “It’s being federally funded so there are no negatives here.”
But while both Anula and Sanderson have an intensive English unit that each caters to about 100 students, Mr Lampe said more teachers would have to be recruited from interstate.
A spokeswoman for NT Education Minister Chris Burns rejected suggestions the move would put Territory schools under strain.
Asylum-seeker children have previously received schooling on Christmas Island and in the remote West Australian town of Leonora, where officials say they have settled in well.