Friday, August 18, 2006

migration to south australia statistics

The picture shows members of the Dinka tribe (Christian Africans in the South of Sudan) who were massacred by government forces in a 21 year civil war. Wikipedia is a good source of information about the Dinkas. Many of the Sudanese refugees to Australia are Dinkas. They are noted for their height.

Selected extracts from a report I read recently about the impact of migration trends on ESL provison in South Australia. Part of my job is to teach new arrivals computing skills. (Some of my experiences about this are recorded at Paul Chandler's wiki)

In 2003-04, SA settled 1560 humanitarian entrants, and in 2005-2006, 1380 entrants. Around 55% were under 18 years of age. This represents 12% of all humanitarian entrants to Australia.

The average education experience of all current humanitarian entrants in 2004-05 was around 2.4 years ... 70% are from African countries, predominantly Sudan, but including countries such as Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burundi and Somalia.

The Federal Government is reducing the proportion of African humanitarian entrants from 70% to 55% in 2007-08, with greater intake from countries in Asia and the Middle East.

How long does it take for students with refugee background to learn English?

Various research is quoted here with estimates varying between 3 years for oral proficiency and up to 10 years for academic proficiency.

Since the current group of new arrival have interrupted schooling (spending years in refugee camps in Kenya, for example) then the report summises that 10 years for academic proficiency is the more realistic estimate.

A report on African refugees in Victorian schools found:
  • Lack of awareness of cultural expectations and understandings of 'how to be a student'
  • Lack of topic specific vocabularies
  • Unrealistic expectations of academic and vocational options
  • Lack of first language literacy to support learning
The paper also found challenges for teachers were significant including:
  • Lack of prior experience with such high need students, including feelings of barely coping with the demands
  • Difficulty in finding suitable texts and resources (with students rejecting 'modified' materials)
  • Tense relationships between subject area teachers and those deemed responsible for English provision.

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