SATURDAY LANGUAGE CLASSES
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: I ask the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs a question without notice. Will the Minister inform the House whether the administration of Saturday morning schools has been given over to the regions? Will the Minister inform the House why such a decision has been made without any consultation with the ethnic communities? Is the Minister aware that the Ethnic Communities Council and many other ethnic community organisations believe that students will be disadvantaged if the program is regionalised?
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: I should be interested to hear support for the assertion of the Hon. Franca Arena that many communities believe regionalisation will disadvantage the program. Quite frankly, 2,500 schools across New South Wales are seeking to manage their own destinies within a statewide framework. I cannot imagine why schools with such a proud tradition and enormous community support - as the Saturday schools of community languages, which, because of neglect of previous governments, State and Federal, to survive have had to be masters of their own destiny out of absolute necessity rather than choice - should feel in any way disadvantaged. That is absolutely beyond me. The honourable member may be interested to note that as recently as last week I attended the inaugural meeting of the Ethnic Schools Advisory Council - yet another innovation of this Government that seeks community input and advice. The Government takes advice from the council on the allocation of funds with regard to the teaching of languages other than English. If the Hon. Franca Arena has real concerns, perhaps she might take this matter up with Dr Peter Wong, the chairperson of that council. That would be the appropriate forum if her concerns have any validity, which I doubt.