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1970 Australian Citizenship Convention paper: Education for Adult Migrants

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Eor release at 1800 hours E.A.S.T, Sunday 11 January 1970


1970 Australian Citizenship Convention paper:


Migrants with little or no knowledge of English should be .

paid an educational allowance to encourage them to learn English,

according to Professor W.F. Connell, head of the Department of

Education at Sydney University.

In a paper titled, "Education for Adult Migrants", to be

presented at the Australian Citizenship Convention in Canberra from January 20-22, Professor Connell says bold measures are needed to remedy the low level of effective attendance at

English classes for migrants

He says that a recent survey by the Department of Immigration indicates that about one-third of foreign-born

migrants cannot speak English, and that departmental English classes assist only a small proportion of these.

"It appears that many past arrivals have remained largely

ignorant of the English language and that, so far from catching up with this back-log.of students, present classes are not

matching the numbers of recent arriyals," he says, "It appears

that the language programme is steadrly slipping backward.



"About half the students spend less than two months on the

course. For most, two to three months is the limit. It would ·

be surprising if the evening classes were teaching effectively

as much as 10 per cent of the yearly intake of migrants needing


Professor Connell says women and migrants in the age-group

30-39 are largely missing from the numbers attending English classes. He suggests that more women, might be encouraged to. . attend if there were morning classes and more women teachers. ·

"The holding power of the present evening classes is so low that strenuous efforts and experimentation should be made to

increase it dramatically.1 1

Professor Connell says that studies of the numbers of migrants abandoning language courses have shown.that the single most important factor is an economic one.

"Many migrants apparently do not think that competence in

what is taught in the evening classes will have much effect on their material prospects," he says., "Where there is a choice of overtime pay.or attendance at class, they overwhelmingly settle for overtime pay."

"In attending classes, migrants are involved in some economic loss. It would be an encouragement to them if this

economic disadvantage.were compensated for by the payment of an

educational allowanceT"

Professor Connell says migrants need special help with

recognition of educational qualifications obtained before migration. ..

. ; ; / 3

"It is obvious that training in the migrant's home country does not always fit the precise requirements of work in


He recommends short, specific.conversion courses coupled

with language and social education, and investigation of the possibilities of more intensive courses.

He suggests that these might start in the home country and

be continued during the journey and,at hostels after arrival;

or that a two-month course might be offered after arrival, .

during which students would receive social service benefits, ;

Another suggestion is that there should be four-month courses., during which migrants would work half-time.

- 3 -

Department of Immigration, CANBERRA. A.C.T.

11 January 1970

N.B. If you already have received a copy of this statement,

you may wish to retain this for reference purposes.