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Migrant teachers offered path to Australian accreditation

This article is sponsored by the University of Sydney. Authorised by Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof. Stephen Garton. Enquiries: 9351 2000;

Teachers with overseas qualifications and years of experience can now fast-track their accreditation into Australian schools with a bridging course developed by University of Sydney.

Sydney Institute for Community Languages Education (SICLE) has funded and developed programs for some 2,000 professionals with overseas qualifications to help them become accredited in Australian schools. Sixty have already begun Master of Teaching upgrade programs that will see them work in local schools in 2021.

It is the only bridging course of its kind for overseas-trained teachers in the world.

“At the moment, it is harder to become a teacher than a doctor in Australia if you have overseas qualifications,” said Professor Ken Cruickshank, who has organised the teacher training programs at Western Sydney University and Australian Catholic University, Strathfield.

“So many highly qualified teachers with years of teaching experience overseas get lost in the system; it is so hard for them to get information and find a pathway and they are often directed to the wrong courses,” Professor Cruickshank said. “We need teachers in NSW and this is such a waste of skills. It is a much bigger problem than people think.”

Professor Cruickshank said there are over 2,000 teachers with experience in teaching overseas who are not recognised in Australia. Around 90 percent of them are women. Many are refugees from Syria, Iraq or Burma.

“These are teachers with decades of experience who are also juggling childcare and work and adapting to a new country, they need information and support,” Professor Cruickshank said.

“Our new course takes two to three years to attain Australian accreditation. It is a real pathway for migrant and refugee women and men.”

Balu Moothedath wants to teach robotics to teenagers to share his passion for learning with kids. Photo: Supplied

Teachers with overseas qualifications
Student teacher Anna Chokekchyan is retraining to be a teacher.

Anna Chokekchyan is retraining as a high school teacher after a career in computer software and engineering in Armenia. “Teaching was my passion in childhood but I followed another career path. But in Australia, aged 42, I decided to follow my heart,” said Chokekchyan, who began teaching in Sydney in an Armenian community language school before enrolling in the Master of Teaching Upgrade.

“This course is life changing,” she said. “I didn’t realise there is so much to learn, especially in an Australian context. I’m studying an Indigenous and cultural responsibility unit and I’ve learned so much. The teaching profession is really dynamic because the environment changes and the times change, we need to be learning new things all the time.”

Balu Moothedath wants to teach robotics to teenagers after a 20-year career in IT. He moved to Australia after working in India, the US and Europe then started teaching Sanskrit and Malayalam in community language schools across Sydney. He now wants to teach in high schools.

“I want to ignite curiosity in students. I started a non-profit class for youth on robotics with elements of mechatronics and computer science. Now I’m teaching STEM projects to enable children to be inquisitive and to question things and to reason. I want to share my passion for learning with kids.”

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