The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped 36 young people from Armidale’s Ezidi refugee community taking important steps towards their higher education goals.
Through UNE’s English Language Centre, the students have completed a 16-week academic English preparation course as part of a unique program developed at UNE to help prepare secondary school students and young adults in the Ezidi community who aspire to study at university.
Funded and delivered face-to-face since 2018, this year the course has been held completely over Moodle and Zoom, to accommodate social distancing requirements brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In March, just as the 2020 project was starting up, COVID-19 closed everything down, and the project team and the project participants found themselves on a huge learning curve,” says project leader Associate Professor Susan Feez, from UNE’s School of Education.
“The team worked tirelessly so participants were able to use phones, tablets and computers to engage in project activities delivered via Zoom and Moodle.”
Using this new online delivery mode, and after initial training and support to use the digital platforms, the students were able to complete the course delivered by a project team from the ELC and Faculty of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences and Education (HASSE).
Many of the 2020 course participants only met their teachers face-to-face for the first time last week as they celebrated their success at Armidale’s Minnie Barn Ezidi restaurant.
Teachers presented each participant with a certificate, praising them on their commitment, determination and growth over the past 16 weeks.
The academic English preparation course and broader tertiary orientation and preparation program are funded by the Australian Government Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP).
The project will continue with HEPPP funding until the end of 2020.