The mothers of St Mel’s are back at school.
Yesterday the mothers were sitting around their teacher learning vowels and the pronunciation of small words; learning how to tell the time and how to spell.
The mothers are all migrants and are learning English with the help of the school, to be able to communicate better with their children – learning English in the same school.
Seven mothers were taking part in lesson one of a migrant education program.
St Mel’s is the first country school in Victoria to hold this type of program, and the only other school concerned with migrant parents is in Melbourne.
The program was inaugurated by Mrs A. Dau, a full time special English teacher at the school.
Mrs Dau is concerned with teaching migrant children who cannot speak or can only speak very little English.
Mrs Dau said there are 76 children at the school being taught special English at the moment.
But she said there has always been a problem with the children being taught English and then going home and trying to communicate with their parents, who would rather speak in their native language.
Mrs Dau said there was a need for this type of parent education and it was good that it was being taught at the same school.
Mrs Dau only initiated the scheme. The parents are being taught by Mrs Jean Fountain, a qualified migrant teacher employed by the Department of immigration.
Most mothers can speak English, but these classes are designed to give them a better understanding and help them to communicate more with their children.
Mrs Dau said she hoped the success of the first classes and the parents understanding that there’s a need for this type of education will prompt many more into attending.
The classes last for about an hour, every Tuesday at St Mel’s Hall.
“The mothers and the children need to be taught this so they can communicate better,” Mrs Fountain said.
“This type of education has been ignored for a long time.”
One of the mothers taking part in the special course for parents is Mrs L. Misuraca.
Mrs Misuraca has two children at St Mel’s and another at St Colman’s College.
Like many Italian families she and her children speak the native language at home.
But she said there are many children being taught English at schools and they cannot, or refuse to speak Italian at home.
“As a result there is very little communication,” she said.