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Tuesday, 11 April 1972
Page: 1479

Mr Grassby asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:

(1)   Has the reduction in expenditure by the Commonwealth on migrant education resulted in the closing of more than 100 evening continuation classes in New South Wales.

(2)   What plans has he to replace these with specialised and accelerated forms of instruction.

(3)   How many migrant English language classes are now being conducted in each of the Australian States at this date and what were the numbers at the same date In each of the last 2 years.

(4)   How many persons are currently enrolled and what was the comparative number at the same date in each of the last 2 years.

Dr Forbes - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Since the review of the long-term continuation class programme in September 1971, the number of evening classes in New South Wales was reduced from 439 at 1st September to 307 at 30th January 1972. The closing of classes was not the result of any reduction in expenditure by the Commonwealth on migrant education. On the contrary expenditure has increased substantially. Prior to the Government's announcement of new initiatives in migrant education in April 1970, expenditure had been to the order of $1 million annually. In the financial year 1970-71 expenditure rose to $3.8 million and in the current financial year it is expected to exceed $6 million.

The continuation class programme provides a long-term form of instruction generally in evening classes each of two hours duration held twice weekly. It had been in operation virtually unchanged for some 20 years. The high abandonment rate and other research information showed that the programme was failing to meet the needs of all migrants. The purpose of the review was to reduce the number of single classes operating uneconomically and to regroup other classes preferably in multi-class centres where it would be possible to provide graded levels of instruction. The need for the review was referred to in the Government's announcement of new initiatives in migrant education in April 1970 which foreshadowed also a transfer in emphasis to more accelerated and specialised forms of instruction which would be better suited to the needs of individual groups of migrants.

The evening continuation class programme will be retained as the principal source of instruction for those migrants whose needs are best met by the long-term form of instruction. Although the overall number of classes has been reduced, tha rearranged grouping of classes should ensure that the greater majority of migrants will still be w,thin easy access of a class.

(2)   There has been already a substantial development of more specialised and accelerated forms of instruction. Full time intensive courses, each of 8 weeks duration, are now operating at 9 centres throughout Australia, catering for 1,600 students annually. (There are 3 centres in New South Wales currently catering for 600 students annually. Their capacity will shortly increase to 900.) Accelerated courses, which cnncentrate the 15-18 months continuation programme into a course of 16-20 weeks duration in morning, afternoon and evening classes, are catering annually for over 4,000 students throughout Australia (2,500 in New South Wales), and these are expected to increase still further. The interest being displayed by employers and employees in the current polit courses for migrants in industry indicates that there will bc an increasing demand for this special course.

Special classes are being provided where necessary to meet the needs of migrant women and other special groups of migrants. The experimental television education project being conducted in conjunction with WIN Channel 4, Wollongong, is expected to provide the basis in due course for an Australia-wide programme.

(3)   and (4) The information sought on the number of classes and students enrolled as at the end of January in each year is as follows:


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