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ALP plans support for Asian Languages in Schools

Posted on 14 November 2018
ALP plans support for Asian Languages in Schools
Falling rates of school students choosing to study Asian languages is leaving Australian graduates at a strategic disadvantage for jobs and opportunities, Labor has warned.

Pledging to spend an extra $32 million to strengthen Asian languages and literacy education across school education if it wins the next election, the Opposition will on Thursday announce plans to boost the supply of qualified teachers, improve curriculum materials from pre-school to year 12 and collect better data.

Deputy leader and Opposition education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said Labor planned to make Asian languages and literacy a national priority.

She will announce the plans in a speech at the Australian National University in Canberra, along with shadow treasurer Chris Bowen.

The package includes funding for up to 100 scholarships a year for native language speakers in Australia and for high performers in priority Asian languages in year 12 to study teaching qualifications.

As part of a new nationwide Asiacapable schools program, a Shorten government would introduce intensive training for 5000 principals and senior teachers to see change through curriculum updates and improved teacher capability.

The training would include languages, histories, geographies, arts, literature, and how these areas should be included in school curriculums.

Languages including Hindi would be added to the existing Early Language Literacy App and Language Learning Space tools, which already include Indonesian, Mandarin and Japanese.

Part of its Future Asia suite of policies, first launched in 2017, Ms Plibersek said Labor would seek matching funding from states and territory governments to roll the program out for all 10,000 Australian principals over five years.

"Asia is home to the fastest-growing middle class on earth, and Australia is right on its doorstep," she said.

"Almost nine in 10 of the next billion middle-class consumers will be Asian.

For Australian business to realise the most economic benefit, we must urgently improve on Asian languages and literacy.

"In recent years, the proportion of school students choosing to study Asian languages in year 12 has stagnated, and in some cases gone backwards."

When Labor was last in government, Julia Gillard outlined a comprehensive policy approach after commissioning the Australia in the Asia Century White Paper.

Labor has already announced plans to launch a range of Asia-focused policies, including increasing Asian expertise in boardrooms, establishing diaspora groups, boosting ministerial engagement across the region, establishing the Australian-ASEAN Studies Centre, reciprocal internship programs and boosting Australia Week in China to an annual event The plans would be the subject of an annual report to Parliament and would come as Labor convened regular meetings of Indo-Pacific education ministers.

Ms Plibersek said no detailed Australia-wide data on Asian language study in schools had been collected since 2011 and a whole-of-government audit of Australian and state government policies and Asian literacy programs was needed.

"A Shorten Labor government is determined to do more than pay lipservice to the Asian century," she said.

Asian Education Foundation executive director Hamish Curry said national support was needed to drive a renewed focus on Asia.

From: Australian Financial Review, Australia  by Tom Mcllroy

25 Oct 2018
Tags: curriculum Government Funding

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