Tue. Dec 5th, 2023

Fifteen Ezidi refugee students who attend Drummond Memorial Public School are among 700 students and educators across the state to receive a life-changing scholarship to help with ongoing education.

The Public Education Foundation launched its scholarship program in 2009 to help remove education barriers created by social and economic disadvantage.

Among the group of successful Armidale students is Sabreen Shani- Baqui whose family arrived in Australia four years ago, after initially escaping Iraq into a refugee camp in Turkey.

Randee Elias was also included in the most recent round of scholarship recipients. He moved with his family from Northern Iraq where his parents didn’t have access to education.

“We would like to see our children do well at school. What they do after that is up to them, but a good education will give them more choices,” Randee’s mother, Halo said.

Aras Alkhalaf was the second son in his family to receive the honour.  He lives with his three older brothers and mother, Fadya, who is a solo parent.

Aras is hoping to use the scholarship to help achieve his goal of becoming a police officer.

“The police came to my Homework Centre and I really liked their uniform.”

“I would also like to put naughty people in jail,” Aras said.

Ezidi students make up one-third of the 242 students enrolled at Drummond Memorial Public School.

According to the NSW Department of Education nearly all the local recipients have lost one family member in their short lives, and some don’t know if a missing person is still alive. Many of the adults in their families are also learning English alongside them.  

English as an Additional Language or Dialect Teacher, Fay Paris, helps students prepare their scholarship applications which can sometimes take hours.

“The scholarships are awarded to kids who are doing well academically and would benefit from extra assistance.”

“It’s an encouragement to them, it says ‘your education is valuable’,” Paris said.

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