Tas teenage asylum seekers off to school

Young asylum seekers housed at Tasmania's Pontville immigration detention centre will begin school next week, a month after the state's children's commissioner raised concerns about their mental health.Up to 150 unaccompanied minors aged 15-17 will begin lessons focusing on English at the Tasmanian Polytechnic.Tasmanian children's commissioner Aileen Ashford became the first in the role to meet with teenage asylum seekers last month.
Ms Ashford said boredom and uncertainty were resulting in signs of stress among the detainees at Pontville, 30km north of Hobart.She said the children had expressed a desire to go to school and feared their circumstances would make them "go mental".Tasmanian education minister Nick McKim said the state and federal governments were working together to provide the opportunity."Young asylum seekers who are trying to create a future for themselves are placed under enormous hardship and uncertainty," Mr McKim said in a statement."Being engaged in education can help them to provide a level of consistency, support and hope for the future."It is quite possible that for some of these students, this will be the first meaningful education they have experienced for some time, if at all."Mr McKim said the curriculum would be similar to the Youth Migrant program already delivered at the college to permanent residents who had been accepted on humanitarian grounds.As well as English, they will also learn maths and social and environmental studies.
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