The Pharos Task Force, set up in 2021 to champion the teaching of Modern Greek in Victorian schools (MGTAV), has called on the Victorian government to ensure there is no further deterioration in the teaching of Greek Greek language and presence in schools.
“Pharos” takes its name from research undertaken for MGTAV by Professor Emeritus Joseph Lo Bianco AM, since 2017, published in the volume titled Pharos, The Vitality and Presence of Modern Greek in Contemporary Australia, by the Australian Council for Educational Research.
“Pharos is an organization that consists of a working group of nine main bodies and associations of the Greek community,” Prof Lo Bianco said. Neos Cosmos.
“We were doing a lot of action at the community level, at the research and university level. So we don’t just depend on the government, we do a lot like ourselves.
Pharos includes the Association of Modern Greek Teachers of Victoria, La Trobe University Modern Greek Studies, Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne Victoria, Archdiocesan District of Northcote (representing the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia), Community Languages Victoria, the Association of Greek Language Schools Victoria, the National Union of Australian Greek Students Victoria, the Greek-Australian Society and PRONIA, and many other dedicated individuals, all of whom demonstrate the representative and
large sample of the entire Greek-Australian community.
Stressing the urgency of tackling the problem of the declining quality of Greek language education in Victoria, Prof Lo Bianco urged the government “to ensure that no ongoing programs will be closed”.
“Pharos met regularly to review the research and prepared a detailed strategic plan, including calling on the Minister of Education to act. But we also feel that we want the government to stop any further decline in language programs,” he said.
The appeal to the Minister notes that several hundred individuals, representing a broad cross-section of one of Australia’s largest ethnic communities, support the appeal.
When contacted by Neos Cosmos Regarding the Pharos submission, a spokesman for the Department for Education said that “Greek is one of the most popular languages offered in Victorian schools, and we will continue to work hard to put Greek language programs world-class class available to students across the state.”
Professor Lo Bianco however argued that more needs to be done, “so to lower a floor we will now build a high ceiling, but we want the government to help us lower a floor so that it does not go down in below the number of programs. But we want the cap to be as high as possible. And we build that through the community.
Professor Lo Bianco also argued that the research revealed the precarious nature of some of the Greek teaching programs.
“I am impressed with the community’s dedication to supporting their language and making it accessible to all Australians. This is the essence of the multicultural ideal that we all espouse for Australia, and I hope the support for Greek Australians will be felt,” he stressed.
Professor Lo Bianco went on to say Neos Cosmos that this is not the first time that Pharos has pushed for change and sounded the alarm about the state of Greek language education in Victoria.
“We’ve reported on our work a number of times, but things are slipping out of people’s minds…then there might be no action for a while, and then all of a sudden there’s another program is in danger. And when you look at the overall situation, it looks terrible. So we must act now! And we need public support. We need the whole community, not only the Greek community, but especially the Greek community to help us. We’ve been doing so much work for years, a lot of volunteer work from people giving their time, but we think it’s time for the government to help as well, you know, the language is pretty bad in public in public schools; even in some schools of the Greek community.
The President of the Modern Greek Teachers’ Association of Victoria (MGTAV), Ms Anita Ladas, has requested five urgent action points from the Minister of State for Education.
“The community came together to do the hard work of research and coordination. Now we are calling for a government response to keep the language of one of Victoria’s largest and most active communities alive in our schools,” Ms Ladas said.
The plan includes supporting research that tracks the destination of currently enrolled Modern Greek students and establishes Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) training for MGTAV members.
“Our goal is to provide 10 scholarships per year for tertiary studies in Modern Greek,” Ms. Ladas added. “Support schools that currently offer Greek and aim to increase the contact time they make available to meet the 150 minutes per week recommended by the Ministry of Education; and assist the Pharos activity by funding a part-time salary for two years to assist in the full implementation of all recommendations.
Dr Stephie Nikoloudis, coordinator of Greek studies at La Trobe University, pointed out that the teaching of Greek in Melbourne dates back more than 100 years, supported by the efforts and sacrifices of the community.
“Recent language education funding hasn’t benefited Greek,” she said, explaining that it’s precipitating a steady decline in the number of programs offered.
“The number of Modern Greek teachers in training and the number of students enrolled are decreasing. With some support now, our task force can turn this situation around, and we are determined to do so.
“The original migrant community is aging. Many pioneers have passed away, but the legacy within the wider community of Greek Australians across different generations is enormous. It is a very, very large community, which has made a huge contribution to Australian life.
Asked by Neos Cosmos what measures the state government plans to take to help protect and improve the teaching of the Greek language, given that the Greek language is essential to the deeper understanding of a multitude of sciences, philosophy, law, politics, not to mention other languages, the Department of Education and Training (DET) argued that the state government had worked consciously to help preserve the continuation of the modern Greek language in schools victorian.
“In 2020, over 2,541 pupils studied Greek in primary schools, secondary schools and the Victorian Government School of Languages, making it the 12th most widely studied language. In addition, more than 5,200 students studied Greek at funded and accredited community language schools in 2020. Three early childhood services also currently offer a Greek language program,” the DET spokesperson said.
Assigning the number to the choice of the students, the DET further explained that Victorian students from kindergarten to grade 12 can study one language and choose from more than 70 languages offered in kindergartens, public primary and secondary schools. , the Victorian School of Languages and community language schools.
“We are working closely with universities to monitor the pipeline of language teachers and will continue to promote Greek language teaching in Victorian schools,” the DET spokesperson said.
Neos Kosmos will follow the story in the coming weeks.