The delegation was led by Frank Merlino, director of the Victorian School of Languages, and included Brian Everett, director of the Holy Family School, and Katica Perinac, president of the Association of Croatian Language Teachers in Victoria.
A delegation of schools from the Australian state of Victoria, where the Croatian language is taught at the elementary and secondary school level, visited the Croatian Heritage Foundation on 10 October. The delegation, led by Frank Merlino, director of the Victorian School of Languages, and including Brian Everett, director of the Holy Family School, and Katica Perinac, president of the Association of Croatian Language Teachers in Victoria, met with CHF director Marin Knezovic. Also on hand for the meeting was Milan Bosnjak, head of the Ministry of Science, Education and Sport’s Department for Primary Education, Lada Kanajet Simic, head of the CHF department for education, science and sport and Lidija Cvikić of the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Teacher Education.
Ms Perinac presented a brief overview of the history of Croatian education in Australia, with a focus on the present moment. Croatian language teaching in Victoria state schools is integrated into regular classes—pupils have the opportunity to learn Croatian from the very start of their schooling, i.e. from the age of six right up to the final, twelfth grade when there is the option of taking a final exam in the Croatian language, which is also the basis for the continuation of any program of study. The key institutions are the Melbourne-based Victorian School of Languages, which gathers all the Croatian language Saturday Schools, and the Bell Park Holy Family Primary School in Geelong, a unique primary school in the world as it has integrated the Croatian language in its curriculum as a compulsory subject since 1978.
If Croatian were to drop off the list of 11 major languages in Australia, the continuation of this program could be jeopardized. Director Knezović supported the preservation of this programme, proven by its excellent quality, and expressed the hope that relevant institutions, both in Croatia and Australia, would demonstrate particular sensitivity and understanding for a systematic solution for this important field of activity among the Croatians of Australia.
Since the Victorian School of Languages, as one of the leading language schools in the world (offering 54 languages), has a department in charge of online classes, a special part of the meeting was the presentation of the HiT-1 Croatian language e-course—created in collaboration between the CHF, the University of Zagreb and the SRCE University Computing Centre. Lidija Cvikić, one of the authors and course leaders, informed the meeting of work on the course and its application in practice.
Text by: Lada Kanajet Šimić