Asian pupils top the entry tests for selective schools in Australia

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Sydney, July 3 (ANI): Children of recent Asian migrants are outperforming students from English-speaking households to dominate the ranks of the top selective high schools in the country.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, 42 per cent of children from non-English speaking backgrounds who sat the annual selective high school entrance test in 2009 won a place in the elite system.

Less than 23 per cent of students whose families speak English at home were successful.

The paper also stated that the percentage of students from migrant families entering the selective system has risen dramatically from 29 per cent in 1995 to as high as 62 per cent in 2008. The component is sharply skewed towards children from Asian-origin families.

Students whose families speak other languages comprise a little more than one-quarter of the total public school population.

Many of the successful students are graduates of the burgeoning network of private coaching colleges which gauge their success by their ability to secure places in the selective system and who tailor courses towards the "opportunity class" and selective exams. Coaching colleges are dominated by children of recent migrants.

The students from migrant families also win up to half the opportunity class placements available for years 5 and 6 at specialised public schools.

"These classes are designed to provide 'intellectual stimulation and an educationally enriched environment for academically gifted and talented children," the paper quoted the Department of Education, as saying.

However, anecdotal evidence suggests some parents avoid selective high schools because of the extent of Asian domination.

According to Craig Campbell, a Sydney University academic and co-author of School Choice, a book on how parents negotiate the school market, high school principals are worried about losing students and prestige and therefore, pushing hard to establish selective streams in their schools.

"Anglo families have a different sense of what a child's life should look like and they are really concerned about narrowing a child's life down to passing the selective school entrance test, but they're having to change because of the competition." The paper quoted, as saying," Campbell said.

Meanwhile, the selective system was expanded this year with 600 more places created through the establishment of 14 partially selective high schools, where a high-achieving stream has been added to a comprehensive high school. (ANI)

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