In two letters addressed to the academic Anna Chatzinikolaou, who is leading the campaign to support Modern Greek programs at Victorian government schools, and is currently heavily involved in the case of VSL Distance Education, the Victorian School of Languages (VSL) office has stated that “it should be made clear that students are able to enrol in Greek distance education classes in 2014 as in previous years” and that “Greek via distance education will be offered at all secondary levels [from Year 7-12] in 2014”.
So the VSL administration’s message is clear: “Business as usual.” Parents have been assured to go ahead with their children’s enrolment for 2014 and students in need of the school’s services for studying Greek are assured their requirements will be fully met.
VSL Distance Education is the only Victorian government school at secondary level specialising exclusively in language teaching (it offers a total of 11 languages, including Modern (since 1976) and Classical Greek (since 2012), whose role is, in our case, to complement and support any existing or disrupted Greek program, or student with specific/special needs throughout Victoria and beyond.
VSL Distance Education has provided a ‘safety net’ for every disrupted Greek program and all potential students in every corner of the state, particularly in country Victoria and remote areas, where there are no other alternatives, students with health issues, students over-committed with extra curriculum activities, underachieving, gifted, newly arrived students from Greece, students on the move around Australia and even students travelling overseas.
Adults may also enrol at VCE levels to improve their language skills and sit Year 12 Exams.
VCE Greek Distance Education students are referred by other parents and students due to its positive reputation, since the results of the program have been exemplary, with high numbers of top scorers.
Greek teachers are highly qualified, using a variety of educational tools, including e-Learning and the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT); teleconferencing, videoconferencing and SKYPE are also used in conducting oral lessons with students from every corner of Victoria, Australia and the globe, in groups or one to one, as needed. The program’s resources are shared and presented at Professional Development Teacher Seminars, which it has initiated a number of times in the past.
Junior Greek students are invited to attend two full day seminars (in March and September) to meet with their teacher and fellow students. They engage in language, culture, multimedia and kinaesthetic activities. Visits (e.g. to a Greek nursing home in Thornbury) are conducted on an annual basis.
VCE students are expected to attend full day seminars in the city of Melbourne one day each term, where they are closely instructed, to visit the Hellenic and Immigration Museums, as well as the Greek media (newspaper/radio stations), Radio 3XY and Radio SBS, where they engage in live and recorded interviews which are broadcasted and available on podcasts on line.
Participation at the annual Greek Student Film Festival is encouraged with positive results. In 2012, four short student films were produced (Melbourne and Mildura based), where two awards were won, and another in 2011.
However, the fight is far from being over for this special school. Anna Chatzinikolaou stresses: “Unless we substantially increase the number of enrolments for Greek in our state school sector, these programs are threatened with extinction. It will be a pity to allow such a thing to happen, after so many struggles to establish the study of Greek in our public system since the late ’60s. It has to be stressed that the public sector plays a key role in not only maintaining the presence of our language in Australia, but expanding it as well, making it widely available to students who do not necessarily have a Greek background.”
The VSL Distance Education Greek program is in need of the Greek community’s support to raise its enrolments, and it is not the only one. All Greek programs in Victorian state schools at both primary and secondary levels are in need of community support.
For inquiries regarding new enrolments, tel: 9474 0500 – 9474 0515 & toll free: 1800 675 872