A GROUP of teachers from Brisbane archdiocese put up their hands to assist in the education of local, refugee and asylum-seeker children on the island of Nauru.
It followed an invitation from the Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Border Protection to the Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC) and Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) to help in the education of refugee and Nauruan children in three schools on the island.
A group of six teachers visited Nauru during the last week in January to carry out diagnostic testing of children, who had been transferred to Nauru, to assist with their inclusion in Nauru schools.
They were later replaced with a further seven teachers who were working in three schools – Nauru Secondary School, Nauru College and Kayser College – during Term 1, supporting students needing assistance in English as a Second Language.
BCE project manager Denis Anthonisz said the teachers had been well received in the schools they had worked in.
“The relationships they have formed with the staff at Nauru Secondary School, Nauru College and Kayser College have enhanced teacher professional capacity in these schools and enhanced the learning of the Nauruan and refugee students in these schools,” he said.
“Nauru Education authorities and school staff are thrilled with the support our teachers are providing.”
QCEC executive director Mike Byrne said the teachers’ involvement was an opportunity for Catholic education to assist Nauru and asylum-seeker children in a very practical way.
He said the Queensland bishops were supportive of the initiative.
“However, they have made it clear to the Federal Government this should not be seen as support for the Government’s asylum-seeker policy of offshore processing,” he said.
Mr Byrne said any assistance provided would continue to be respectfully negotiated with the Nauruan Government.
“The Catholic Church in Nauru has been very supportive and Bishop Paul Mea Kaiuea in Kiribati sees this as supporting the Catholic school and the whole education system on Nauru,” he said.
BCE executive director Pam Betts said she was “delighted” with the teachers’ generous response, which had followed visits to Nauru by a team of three staff from QCEC and BCE.
Ms Betts said the initiative would move forward in carefully managed stages to ensure “we provide the skills and support that meets the children’s needs and is in keeping with existing plans and structures”.
She said a further group of teachers would take up the program and head to Nauru in Term 2 as the first cohort of teachers returned to Queensland.