Tamil activities in Oz

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CHITRA SUDARSHAN on the expansion of Tamilian activities in Australia

The Australian Tamil Academy, a not-for-profit organisation, was founded in the year 1999 by Sri Sugumaran, to provide opportunities for, and promote, Tamil language learning in Australia.

The Academy runs weekend and daily night classes for students at various levels and offers culture-based Tamil education in Australia. It began with a small group of children meeting in each other’s homes to learn Tamil.

It has now grown into a large organisation with over 100 students, 14 teachers, a Teaching Training Program affiliated to the SRM University in Tamil Nadu and a curriculum accredited by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD), Victoria and Community Languages School Program.

The Curriculum implements the guidelines and standards set out in the Australian Victorian Essential Learning Standards (AusVELS) for Languages Other than English (LOTE). The Academy runs classes at Carrum Downs Secondary College, Fountain Gate Secondary College and at the Little Croft Centre in Casey.

The Tamil Academy had its first Graduation Ceremony at the Monash University Clayton Campus on Saturday 11 July attended by Victorian Multicultural Commissioner, Chidambaram Srinivasan, as well as representatives from SRM University in Tamil Nadu.

The ceremony marked the end of the journey taken by a group of 11 Tamil teachers and future teachers who began their training in July 2014.

In the afternoon there was a seminar held to discuss the future of Tamil education in Australia.

The objective of the session was to encourage members of the community to suggest ideas on a range of topics relevant to the learning and teaching of Tamil in Australia.

It was also an attempt to bring together a host of other Tamil schools operating in Melbourne – and other cities such as Sydney – under a ‘Federation of Tamil Schools’, so that they can work cooperatively towards a common objective.

The Academy is school-specific, and offers Tamil language teaching, a degree program in Tamil, and a Tamil virtual library.

It has plans to open a traditional Tamil library soon. The Academy has held Tamil literary festivals and hosted guests from India, and celebrates the Pongal and Chittirai festivals annually.

The cultural activities of the Academy take place under the aegis of the Valluvar Foundation, and it offers classes in music – instrumental and vocal, and Bharatanatyam.

The Academy is, by and large, supported by funding and donations from the community, with nominal support from the Department of Education and Training and the Victorian Multicultural Commission.

Those interested in contacting the Academy and being part of any of its activities should contact Shanthi Sivakumar on 0401 671 383 or Bhuvana Sugumaran on 0411 240 614.