Sunday, 5 July 2015

One school that should definitely never close.

From the Guardian

Australia’s immigration department is moving ahead with plans to close the school at the Nauru detention centre, despite no clear child protection framework at local schools outside the centre and concerns that child asylum seekers may be subject to corporal punishment.

The closure of the school in Regional Processing Centre 1 has sparked concerns in the department and has distressed asylum seeker children and their parents on the island. 

The four schools asylum seeker children are to be moved to are the Yaren primary school, Nauru primary school, Nauru college and Nauru secondary school. 

Asylum seekers in the detention centre were only notified of the closure over the weekend. All child asylum seekers aged seven to 17 will be moved to local schools, while a small group of children under seven will stay at the detention centre.

Notification of the closure has sparked protests, threats of self-harm and several incidents of self-harm from children as young as five.

Local schools in Nauru still practise corporal punishment, and former Save the Children case worker Viktoria Vibhakar has previously raised concerns about child asylum seekers being beaten with a wooden ruler.

The parent of one primary school student who was taken to the local schools as part of an orientation told Guardian Australia: “Dirty, not safe. Toilet not flush. Dirty, no water, no paper.”

Asylum seekers who visited the Yaren primary school said there was no running water in the toilets, or doors in the bathrooms. Some also raised concerns about safety. One primary school age asylum seeker said it was not safe at the local school she saw.

The quality of teaching at the local schools is also considered to be poor, with many teachers possessing limited English skills.

The transition to the local schools has been planned by the immigration department, with Save the Children playing a role in the transition. Brisbane Catholic Education provided educational assessments.

Child asylum seekers on the island have previously raised concerns about the change and have written letters to the immigration department. Truancy rates at Nauru schools are extremely high, at around 60% for children aged over 15.

A spokeswoman for the immigration department said: “Integration of asylum seeker children into local schools is consistent with both open centre processing arrangements and education opportunities already accessed by refugee children in Nauru.

Maybe when some remarkably well resourced schools are considering their 'sister school' arrangements and their reciprocal trips overseas ( to exotic locations) they might consider Nauru as a destination instead. ( State schools will find it difficult to maintain their extravagant sister school programs now, given IBAC related changes to DET policy) I believe there are some great views of the detention centre and guano mining operations from almost anywhere on Nauru.

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