Bashir Yousufi took the audience of the Public Education Foundation Awards Night from the streets of Kabul, where his father was killed by the Taliban, to his success as Vice-Captain of Holroyd HS in Sydney’s south-west following his escape from Afghanistan in 2010 as a boy of 12.
In his address, Bashir said refugee students suffered great difficulty when they first arrived in Australia. In addition to being in detention centres a lack of proficiency in English made study hard. Bashir used a dictionary to start to teach himself English. He believed determination was the key to future successes and that by attending university he would fulfil a lifelong ambition. He wanted to participate fully in the Australian way of life.
In 2012, Bashir represented Australia in Geneva at the Discussion for the Committee on the Rights of the Child, where he shared his experiences as a child in immigration detention.
As well as being Vice-Captain of Holroyd High, Bashir is on the Student Representative Council. It is his wish that by participating fully in his school life he will be able to give back to the community that has given him so much.
Bashir was very proud to receive two awards on the night. The first was the Unions NSW Scholarship which supports outstanding public school students studying curriculum studies such as Economics, Business Studies, Legal Studies and Modern History, with an interest in unionism and social justice.
The second award was The Friends of Zainab Scholarship Special Commendation. This scholarship assists refugee students who encounter difficulties in their critical years of the Higher School Certificate and provides financial support to the student’s first two years of full-time university.
The keynote address was given by The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, former Justice of the High Court of Australia, renowned human rights advocate and former student of Fort Street High School in Sydney.
Justice Kirby reminded the audience that education was the key to the country’s social and economic success, and he acknowledged that public schools did the heavy lifting in the important role of supporting students who were most in need.
The awards night is an opportunity to showcase the talents of students from public schools across NSW. There were performances from the NSW Public Schools Symphonic Wind Orchestra, the Aboriginal Dance Company, the Junior Singers and soloist Kelsi Boyden from the Newtown High School of Preforming Arts. The performances were coordinated by the Arts Unit which provides infrastructure for arts education in NSW public schools.