Ready to shine

The official launch of Adult Learners Week at TAFE Qld offered a chance to celebrate a milestone in adult English education as well as the achievements of some outstanding adult learners.

Over 120 educators, policy makers and adult learners gathered at TAFE Queensland’s Southport campus on September 4 for the launch of Adult Learners Week and the announcement of the inaugural Adult Learners Week scholarships. This year Adult Learners Week coincided with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Australian Migrant English Program (AMEP) providing further cause for celebration. Established in 1948 to provide English language training to recent arrivals to assist with their settlement in Australia, today AMEP assists over 60,000 newly arrived migrants each year.

Paris Aristotle AO, Chairman of Settlement Services Advisory Council, well known for his extensive experience in the field of supporting refugees and asylum seekers, formally launched the week and elaborated on the theme of ‘Learning Changes Lives’. ‘Adult learning programs can be transformational, they act as an instruments of good.’ He said that refugees do not create economic burden in the long term. ‘Cultural and productive immigration increases research and innovation.’

Prudence Melom, Toowoomba Young Citizen of the Year and founder of E-Raced recounted her family’s experience of settlement in Australia and the importance of a continuing commitment to learning as well as announcing the winners of this year’s Adult Learners Week scholarships. Prudence said we can counter racism by sharing stories that facilitate understanding and learning.

Scholarship winners

Samson, a former teacher and pastor from Burundi, has applied his teaching and pastor skills to support low-level students in other AMEP classes.

Samson Ndikumwami, AMEP student, TAFE Queensland

‘Someone came into our class and announced that one of us had won a scholarship. When she said it was me I felt both overwhelmed and humbled to find that I had been chosen out of the many who had been nominated. I have been in Australia for less than 5 months and winning the scholarship made me forget about the terrible things I went through in my own country and in the one where I stayed while I sought asylum.

This scholarship has been a boost to my learning and my ambitions. I intend to use it to improve my English and to pay some of the fees for a TAFE course in social work which I believe will enable me to get a job to sustain my family and aid my settlement here in Australia. In the new year, I plan to start a Tertiary Preparation Program at the University of Southern Queensland.

This scholarship will greatly help me to achieve my dreams. Since I won it I feel more welcome here and I now believe that everybody can make it here regardless of their background. I thank ALA as well as TAFE Queensland for this opportunity.’

Emma Kastelein, Certificate in Disability, Community College Northern Inland, Inverell, NSW

Emma Kastelein was nominated as an ‘an amazing role model’ for other students in her class at Community College Northern Inland

‘I found out I’d won the scholarship when my friend rang me up and said, ‘Have you seen Facebook?’ and I got on straightaway and I was really happy and very overwhelmed. I called up mum and I called up dad, and everyone was very excited for me.

‘I dropped out of school in Year 9, it wasn’t for me. I tried Distance Education in Year 10 but that didn’t work out. But I’ve been doing drama and working at Connections in Inverell teaching drama to adults with disabilities since I was 15, and my drama teacher said that obviously I loved working with people with disabilities and I was very good at it so that’s how I came to study it. First I did a Foundation Skills course at the Community College and I’m just about to finish my Certificate 3 and will also do the Certificate 4 in Disability.

‘I think I’ll use the scholarship money to study Auslan because in the disability area I think that would be a great skill to have.’

Mason Jefferies, Tiered Training and Transition Program, The Bridge, Preston, VIC.

Mason was nominated for his drive to keep learning and the progress he has made during his training. 

‘I knew Sabrina at The Bridge had nominated me but when she came into the office to tell me I got a scholarship I was floored. It was totally unexpected. I got super excited. I was in shock and in awe too.

I want to study something related to science and healthcare. I’ll probably use the money to do a course in TAFE like a tertiary preparation course or a Certificate 4 in Science. I’ll take a pathway approach rather than jumping straight into a uni course, dip my toes into different subjects along the way and see what I’m interested in. I know that’s a better way of doing things for me, taking it slowly and working towards what I want gradually. I’ve done a lot of different kinds of volunteer work to experience different things and that’s really helped me find out what kind of career I want. Now I know I’m passionate about working with people and I want to progress in a career that promotes wellness like mental health or aged care.

I was a bit lost before I came to The Bridge. I was pretty much shut in my house with depression. It was a pretty rough time. Things are looking up now and I’m moving ahead. I’ve got a lot of friends now and people who support me. I’ve got a lot of things to be grateful for, including this scholarship.’

Andrey Weymouth, CGEA student, The Centre, Wangaratta, VIC

Andrey was nominated for his ‘phenomenal’ work ethic.

Andrey works at a local quarry where the work is hard and dirty and the hours are long. A recent promotion to second-in-charge prompted him to take steps to improve his literacy, maths and language skills so he enrolled in the Certificate in General Education for Adults (CGEA) at The Centre for Continuing Education in Wangaratta.
Andrey’s teachers call his work ethic ‘phenomenal’. Despite a week of 12 hour shifts Andrey approaches his 3 hour class with gusto, often working through breaks and submitting work for review and assessment via email between classes.
Andrey will use the scholarship to take his studies further. Once he completes his secondary education (VCAL) he plans to study Certificate IV and Diploma in Surface Extraction. His ultimate aim is to be in charge of one of the firm’s quarries in his own right.

 

Josephine Lofthouse, SEE student, Nortec Employment and Training, NSW

From someone who hated school Josephine has embraced learning and even becoming a mum hasn’t slowed her down.

As an early school leaver and to satisfy government mutual obligation requirements, Josephine began full-time in the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program in September 2015, studying Foundation Skills. At first Josephine resisted her lessons saying that she’d left school in year 8 because she hated school as well as the teachers. But she discovered a love of learning and hasn’t looked back.

The ALW scholarship couldn’t have come at a better time for Josephine. She needs to do two more units to complete her Certificate IV in Business. These two units are not currently offered by NORTEC so they have linked her in with ParentsNEXT.

ParentsNEXT help parents set education and employment goals and link them into services and activities in local communities.
‘I am so very thankful for this scholarship. It’s so helpful to me at this time. I was trying to work out with ParentsNext how I would pay for my last two business units.’

Karen Dickinson (L) and Mary Campbell cutting the cake to mark AMEP’s 70th anniversary.

A chance to celebrate the work and achievements of adult learners.

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