Renewed calls for one of the world’s oldest languages to be included on the national curriculum is gaining momentum.
Prospect MP Hugh McDermott has written to federal education and training minister Senator Simon Birmingham and lobbied in state parliament on behalf of Consortium of Tamil Associations NSW.
His electorate has one of Australia’s highest concentrations of Tamil language-speakers, where the Wentworthville Tamil Study Centre runs Saturday classes for 650 students at Girraween High School.
“Tamil language will become increasingly important for trade and commerce between Australia, Sri Lanka and India,” Dr McDermott told parliament this week.
“The potential economic benefit deriving from Tamil language education is significant. Tamil Nadu is a rapidly growing economy and the Tamil language will become increasingly important to international trade and investment. There needs to be more support by the state, territory and Commonwealth governments, for young Australians to be able to learn Tamil and experience the vibrant Tamil culture and traditions.”
The first HSC exam for Tamil in 2002 under the former Carr Labor government. It remains a continuers course for students with an advanced understanding of the language. Under current state government arrangements, there has been no increased investment into Tamil language education.
“It means that Tamil language students are deprived of the resources that are available to language classes in mainstream schools,” Dr McDermott said.
Consortium of Tamil Associations lobbied the federal department of education in 2013 but were unsuccessful.
“It’s disappointing as we have a large Tamil community here in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and other states,” Wentworthville Tamil Study Centre president Kathirgamanathan Narenthiranathan said.
“We strive to make sure our kids know where they come from so they can become taxpaying citizens who contribute to society and don’t get lost in the system. Tamil is more than just a language, it’s a rich culture.”