Posted by The Chinese Language Institute on 20. Nov 2012
As part of Australia's continuing commitment to prepare its citizens to be competitive in what it calls the "Asian Century," the government has called for 50% of Australian students to be studying an Asian language within a decade. Australia is making Asian languages, and specifically Mandarin, a priority in its schools. "The global situation is rapidly changing," and with China becoming more important, more Australians are rushing tolearn Mandarin.
In this article from the Sydney Morning Herald, Benjamin Preiss lays out Australia's ambitious plan, and why it's worth the price tag.
Language studies plan backed despite high cost
29 October 2012 by Benjamin Preiss | The Sydney Morning Herald
THE FEDERAL government's plan to allow all students the opportunity to study an Asian language would cost billions of dollars, an Asia policy expert says.
Swinburne University Asian policy Professor Ken Chern praised the government's ''ambitious'' strategy to build stronger ties with Asia but said it would require a major commitment.
"The government will have to move powerfully to implement what I think is a very important program," he said.
The government's Asian Century white paper, launched yesterday, outlines plans to improve Australians' knowledge of Asian languages and culture.
It aimed for all students to have access to studying Mandarin, Hindi, Indonesian or Japanese throughout their schooling.
Professor Chern said giving all students the opportunity to learn an Asian language would "likely run into the billions".''It's a seriously expensive project,'' he said.
But he welcomed the white paper's proposal for Asian language studies to be a core requirement of funding arrangements for schools to be negotiated between the federal and state governments and non-government education authorities.
Professor Chern said it was crucial that Australian students were exposed to Asian culture by incorporating it into history, economics and political studies at schools and universities.
Asia Education Foundation executive director Kathe Kirby welcomed the education objectives listed in the white paper but said they would require the support of state and territory governments.
The foundation believes it would cost about $1 billion to have 50 per cent of young people in Australia learning an Asian language over the next decade.
Ms Kirby said some students were put off learning Mandarin because they studied alongside native speakers who already had a strong grasp on the language.
Although Mandarin is offered separately for new and native speakers in Victoria, Ms Kirby said students often studied in the same class.
"Where the system falls down is schools usually don't have enough students to be running separate classes," she said.
The white paper sets a goal of 10 Australian universities reaching the top 100 in the world by 2025. Australia now has six universities in the first 100 of theTimes Higher Education'sglobal rankings.
Melbourne University's Asia Institute director Pookong Kee said many Asian governments were investing heavily in their universities.
He said institutes in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan were trying to establish themselves as world-leading universities with their governments "rapidly outspending Australia" on higher education. ''The global situation is changing rapidly,'' he said.
The federal government also aims to encourage more Australian university students to study in Asian universities.
Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans said the government would support universities to increase the number of students taking Asian studies and languages as part of their education.
"We want to support more Australian students to undertake part of their study in the Asian region not only to boost their direct understanding of Asia in the changing economy, but also to develop networks and friendships that will last a lifetime," he said.
''Our aim is that by 2025, a larger number of Australian university students will be studying overseas and a greater proportion will be undertaking part of their degree in an Asian country.''
But Professor Kee said his institute had already been trying to encourage more Australian students to study in Asia. ''In general students are still preferring to travel to Europe. They find Paris more interesting than New Delhi or Beijing,'' he said.
Professor Kee said students who did study in Asia sometimes struggled to gain recognition from local universities for the work they had completed.
Read full articlehere.
Image courtesy of Creative Commons
Sounds good..20 November 2012
sensible Australia wish British Gov had half as much sense13 January 2013
I am a Hong Kong girl. I want to learn English for IELTS. I want to find friends can teach me. Hope u is a girl. The same time,I can teach you Chinese. Help each other =))23 March 2013
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