What have you found to be the major differences between education systems in Australia compared to South Africa?
Glen: The Government provides substantial funding to Independent schools, so we are able to have the best facilities and equipment. The testing systems differ from state to state, although the Government is talking about introducing a national curriculum. In most schools, sport takes place during school hours. Few schools play sport on Saturdays.
Can you offer any advice to students still in Africa to prepare for their enrolment/acceptance into a new school here?
Glen: South African students are generally seen as respectful and motivated. Make the most of this mindset: set the good example, and don’t let yourself follow poor examples. There is a greater emphasis on assignments. This means that juggling time with homework is an adjustment at first. South African students are well trained in basic algebra, but in Queensland there is also a section on ‘Problem Solving’ which needs to be mastered through hard work.
Why should newly immigrated Southern Africans send their children to your school in particular?
Glen: Townsville enjoys an average of 320 days a year of sunshine! A large percentage of our teachers and students come from South Africa and feel very much at home here. There is a large South African element in Townsville. The families who don’t immediately fit into a home church quickly form friendships in the local South African Club and with Australian families.
Our school provides a Christian based education. All our permanent teachers are Christian. The discipline and behaviour standards expected here are much like the best practice in South Africa. The curriculum is varied, and the academic standards are high. A gifted and talented program extends our better students. There is much scope for a well-balanced education. Besides a full range of interschool sports (weekdays in Townsville schools), our school offers tennis excellence, Music tuition, Speech and Drama, Chess, and a ‘Hobbyclub’ program.
How well do you find newly immigrated Southern African students settle into Australian schooling systems?
Glen: Because of the ready acceptance of South African students by their Australian counterparts, we have not to date had any difficulties with SA children happily settling in to Calvary Christian College.
What advice could you offer to newly immigrated Southern Africans looking for the best school for their children?
Glen: Don’t fall for the trap of thinking that the most expensive education is the best one. Snob value will not guarantee a safe environment for your children. Look for good value, which will rest in good values. Australia is physically safer than South Africa and parents should make the most of this. At the same time, parents need to remember that any society has its dangers and temptations, so they need to be careful where they place their children. If you can, send your children to a good primary school straight away, don’t wait until high school.
What would you say to people who cannot afford private education and have to send their children to public/state schools?
Glen: If you can, move to an area where there is a better state school. Be very careful about your children’s friends. Especially in adolescence, when they take their eyes off you and fix them on their friends, you will want them to have the right kind of friends. Make sure you visit their friends’ parents. They could have values and child-rearing practices that you would not be happy with. Make sure you give your children a Godly heritage through the example you set, they won’t get it in the World.