Melbourne’s Greek community has been shaken at the news of the Greek language teaching being discontinued from Coburg West Primary School’s (CWPS) 2019 curriculum plan.
In the monthly newsletter CWPS Principal Mark Colagrande announced the board’s decision saying that it was not made lightly “as we understand the strong history the Greek program has had in our school”.
The announcement has troubled some of the parents who are already enrolled in the school, including the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM).
Speaking to Neos Kosmos, GCM’s vice president and Education convenor Theo Markos said he had met with the school’s parents committee who are already motivated and doing the best they can to save the Greek language program.
“The parents have already gotten a petition going amongst the school community,” Mr Markou said.
“We have also found out that the new preps were not offered a choice in the language and were told that Greek is stopping at the end of the year because they don’t have enough numbers.”
Even though Mr Colagrande claims that the school’s board is still investigating other options to try to keep current students involved in a Greek language program outside of regular school time, Mr Markos sent a letter requesting an urgent meeting with him and if necessary the School Council.
Mr Markos referenced page seven of The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development booklet which clearly states that community consultation is critical when a school is replacing or ceasing an existing language program, something that CWPS had not done before making this decision.
On Tuesday, Federal Member for Wills, Peter Khalil MP also expressed his frustration at the announcement in a statement, requesting a meeting with the school principal to discuss the matter.
“Coburg West Primary School is within my electorate of Wills, which has a Greek-speaking population of 4.5 per cent, as compared with a Victorian average of 1.9 per cent, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
“Greek language classes have been offered for most of Coburg West Primary School’s 101 year history. I understand the decision to discontinue the program has upset many parents and the broader Greek community,” he said promising to advocate in support of Greek language services remaining available to students.
Meanwhile, on becoming aware of this issue, Minister for Early Childhood Education Jenny Mikakos decided to bring the issue to the attention of the Minister of Education, James Merlino.
“I raised this with Minister Merlino and he has ensured that the Greek language program at Coburg West Primary School will continue in 2019 and that consultation on the school’s languages provision will be undertaken with parents next year.”
*To sign the online petition go to:
*If parents at the school would like to raise the matter with Mr Khalil MP directly, they can contact his office on (03) 9350 5777 or via email Peter.Khalil.MP@aph.gov.au