Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Get Ready to Learn Hindi: Education in the Asian Century

English: South Asian Language Families, transl...
South Asian Language Families, translated from Image:Südasien Sprachfamilien.png, from Language families and branches, languages and dialects in A Historical Atlas of South Asia, Oxford University Press. New York 1992. Author - User:BishkekRocks Translated by User:Kitkatcrazy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Kathe Kirby, Executive Director, Asialink and Asia Education Foundation at University of Melbourne, The Conversation:

The rapid rise of Asia means that Australia and the world find themselves in new strategic circumstances in this century.

And that has immense implications for our young people.

The Australia in the Asian Century White Paper sets out an ambitious roadmap to make sure we achieve an Asia capable skill set by 2025. And that’s not a moment too soon.

Five-year-olds who start school in Australia today enter the workforce in 2025 just as China and India become the world’s top economies.

Complacent for too long, we have needed a major change, and the white paper should give us that. This is not a government report - it is government policy.

A win for language

The white paper positions learning about Asia as business as usual in all schools. All children from the start of primary school will have the chance to learn about Asia including its languages, histories, geographies and cultures through the new Australian curriculum.

Importantly, their progress will be tracked. We haven’t had commitment to do that before - to know how our children are progressing is a vital to ensure that schools take this curriculum priority seriously.

All Australian schools are to be linked to a school in Asia to support language studies and to forge friendships with young people in China, Indonesia, India, Japan, Korea, Thailand and across the region.

All Australian students will have the opportunity to undertake a continuous course of Asian language study from Year 1 to Year 12 with priority on Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and now Hindi.

The inclusion of Hindi as a priority Asian language is new. Currently only a handful of Australian schools teach Hindi and scaling this up will be a challenge. But the decision to include Hindi is welcome and consistent with the growing importance of India globally and to Australia.

The fact that only 12% of Indians speak English has been too little understood and we have been complacent about the need to know India better.

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