HIGH FIVE: At Interrelate in Lismore yesterday are (from left) Akony Rong, 3, teacher Anne Bowden, Mei-Lin Marlin the community education officer, Baraka Masonga, 3, and his father Merrrise Chifundera
HIGH FIVE: At Interrelate in Lismore yesterday are (from left) Akony Rong, 3, teacher Anne Bowden, Mei-Lin Marlin the community education officer, Baraka Masonga, 3, and his father Merrrise Chifundera Jacklyn Wagner

Gaining skills to count on

IMAGINE having to teach your kids how to read and count in another language.

For many African people living in Australia, including a number in the Northern Rivers, it is a real challenge that they are keen to overcome.

During a seminar held by the NSW Department of Education and Training and community group Interrelate in Lismore yesterday, African parents were taught English counting skills they can pass on to their young kids.

The seminar followed up on the department's reading project held for local African residents last school term.

"It's all about helping the children gain skills before they start school," the department's community information officer Mei-Lin Marlin said.

Meurrise Chifundera and his family who are originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo and who arrived in Australia as refugees attended the seminar yesterday.

"English is our second language. Our education was in French and some of our children started their education in the French program," he said.

"When we came here they changed to English, which was not easy."

Mr Chifundera said the seminar "was really useful". He and other parents learnt nursery rhymes and games that can develop children' counting skills.

"These are basic things which you need to know as a parent and can help our children during their education," he said.

Communities for Children Project parent education programs officer Belinda Keech said the learning days were important as African migrants had to "learn a whole new culture".

She said the seminar day, which was funded by YWCA NSW Communities for Children Project, also provided a space for African-Australians to discuss important parenting issues.



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