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Race case fought on language lessons;Briefing International


In an unprecedented move, 33 Melbourne pupils are taking legal action against their school claiming they were racially discriminated against when it dropped Greek language classes.

The students have taken the school, the local education department and the government of the State of Victoria to the Equal Opportunity Commission. If they are successful, the government could be forced to spend millions of dollars providing additional language classes and teachers.

Up to 20 languages are taught in Victoria's secondary schools and most of them are also

available via distance education programmes.

The students who want to study Modern Greek are from Greek-speaking families. They claim they were discriminated against when the school began to phase the subject out of the curriculum in 1994 and stopped offering it altogether in 1997.

The school council decided to axe Modern Greek because it believed class sizes were too small. But the students claim that French and Indonesian language classes also have small enrolments yet the school continues to teach them.

An education department spokesman said the decision was responsible and the government would back its action.

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