Victorian children to learn new language in Kindergarten through new funding package
Children in Victoria will be offered the opportunity to learn a language other than English while attending kindergarten in 2019, through a ‘significant investment by the Victorian Government’, Victorian Minister for Education, James Merlino has said.
Mr Merlino was joined by the Member for Box Hill, Paul Hamer, to launch the $17.9 million Early Childhood Language Program with children at Box Hill North Primary School Kindergarten yesterday. The children of Box Hill North will be using the funding, which is supplemental to the Federal Early Language Learning Australia (ELLA) funding, which has been extended for another year with $5 million allocated for 2019-20 and $1.4 million for 2020-21 in last night’s 2019/20 Budget Announcement.
Approximately 160 kindergarten services are set to benefit from the program, with 150 services conducting weekly language sessions of up to three hours, with a further ten services being bilingual settings, where children will have half of their educational program offered in a language other than English, with a range of languages including Mandarin, Punjabi, Arabic, Italian, Vietnamese, French, Spanish, Auslan and Aboriginal languages being spoken.
The programs will be delivered using extra staff compensated through the funding provision, meaning there will be no additional cost to the early childhood education and care (ECEC) service, or parents.
Mr Merlino said the funding was designed to support Victorian children to acquire all the skills and opportunities they need to be well developed individuals, ‘prepared to live and work in a globalising world.’
“We want our children to have the best start in their education. Learning a language early on will give them a leg up with literacy and help them to understand the world around them.” he said in closing.