The Australian government came a step closer to formalising its plans to make Asian language study compulsory for schools this week. It has released a draft curriculum for public consultation which reveals plans to include Indonesian, Korean and french language in the curriculum.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard publicly stated in September 2012 that in response to the “staggering growth” in the region, the government would be instigating 25 key measures to strengthen and exploit links with Asia. The plan includes the requirement that one third of civil servants and company directors have a “deep knowledge,” thousands of scholarships for Asian students, and the opportunity for every schoolchild to learn one of four “priority” languages- Chinese, Hindi, Japanese or Indonesian
Ms Gillard stated that the “unstoppable” rise of Asia was fundamentally, “Good news for Australia and it should drive a profound change in our thinking about our economic relationship with Asia.” Australia has already benefited immensely from its links to Asia, which served to shield it from the worst of the global financial crisis, and the ongoing Australian mining boom has been fuelled by increased demand from the region.
Australia has already benefited immensely from its links to Asia
As part of the plans, every school in Australia will be partnered with one in Asia, and local media will be encouraged to broadcast more Asian TV programs and films. According to Ms Gillard, “Children in kindergarten now will graduate from high school with a sound working knowledge of Asia.”
According to Education Minister Peter Garrett, Australia has already consulted on the Chinese Mandarin and Italian curricula and is in the next phase, “Towards rolling out the full languages Australian Curriculum over the next few years.”
He added that, “Along with Indonesian as a priority language, the study of Korean will also help build stronger understanding and links with our neighbours”
Trade Minister Craig Emerson expressed his hope that the move would unlock career opportunities for future generations, stating that, “Languages give insights into other cultures, which can translate into career and business opportunities.”