Test sets up vul­ner­a­ble to fail

Shepparton News - - VIEW POINT -

An abil­ity to un­der­stand English would seem a rea­son­able re­quire­ment of cit­i­zen­ship for an English­s­peak­ing coun­try.

The ques­tion is, how­ever, what stan­dard should this re­quire­ment meet?

Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Peter Dut­ton wants to make new mi­grants sit a tougher stand-alone English lan­guage test be­fore be­ing al­lowed to ap­ply for Aus­tralian cit­i­zen­ship.

Can­di­dates must demon­strate a ‘‘com­pe­tent’’ level of read­ing, writ­ing, lis­ten­ing and speak­ing English.

Part of the test in­volves a 1000-word read­ing com­pre­hen­sion exam with 40 ques­tions to be com­pleted in 60 min­utes.

Ap­pli­cants must also write two es­says, do a 30-minute lis­ten­ing test and a 15-minute speak­ing exam.

There are some who con­sider this a ‘‘univer­sity-level’’ English test.

Oth­ers say it is a nec­es­sary re­quire­ment to en­cour­age peo­ple to in­te­grate and speak to oth­ers in their neigh­bour­hoods.

The new tests are at the same level that per­ma­nent skilled mi­grants have to achieve to gain di­rect en­try into Aus­tralia.

How­ever, we be­lieve the pro­posed new test for mi­grants does not take into ac­count those peo­ple who might have lived as refugees and who have never been to school — and who find it dif­fi­cult read­ing and writ­ing in their own lan­guage let alone English.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment also wants to change the wait­ing pe­riod for ap­ply­ing for per­ma­nent res­i­dency from one year to four.

As Shep­par­ton Eth­nic Coun­cil man­ager Chris Ha­zle­man has said, this ex­tends the time mi­grants will be kept out of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and places an­other level of ob­sta­cles in their way.

While there must be a sys­tem of screen­ing the abil­i­ties of new mi­grants, we won­der firstly if many of our first gen­er­a­tion Ital­ians, Greeks and Al­ba­ni­ans would have been wel­come un­der these new rules.

Sec­ondly, we also won­der if all of our cur­rent par­lia­men­tar­i­ans would pass these English gram­mar and com­pre­hen­sion tests.

If not, then these new rules must be deemed a ridicu­lously high bar­rier for new mi­grants to jump.

A so­phis­ti­cated com­pre­hen­sion of writ­ten and spo­ken English does not guar­an­tee in­te­gra­tion, non-vi­o­lence, or ac­cept­able po­lit­i­cal val­ues. But it does guar­an­tee fail­ure if im­posed upon the un­e­d­u­cated and the op­pressed.

. . . THE PRO­POSED NEW TEST FOR MI­GRANTS DOES NOT TAKE INTO AC­COUNT THOSE PEO­PLE WHO MIGHT HAVE LIVED AS REFUGEES AND WHO HAVE NEVER BEEN TO SCHOOL . . .

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