“Whatever else this century brings, it will bring Asia’s return to global leadership, Asia’s rise. This is not only unstoppable, it is gathering pace,” Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard stated. “I’m going to put access to Asian languages at the center of our national school improvement plan,” she explained.
Gillard made these statements as she released her new strategy paper entitled “Australia in the Asian century”. The goal of the new strategy is to place Australia in among the world’s top 10 economics in the next 13 years.
“We long saw Asia as a threat to all this – racially, militarily, and economically. Indeed this was precisely the moral paradox of the working man’s paradise. A hundred years ago, high wages meant white man’s wages. No more,” she said.
Australian children will learn Japanese, Mandarin, Indonesian, or Hindi. Along with this they will study Asian culture in depth. ”Children in kindergarten now will graduate from high school with a sound working knowledge of Asia,” Gillard said. The Prime Minister also plans to link every Australian school with an Asian counterpart via high speed internet by 2017.
“The capacity for Australians to build deeper ties with Asia will be hampered if there is not an increase in proficiency of languages other than English,” the policy paper specified. “Proficiency in more than one language is a basic skill of the 21st century”.