School Partnerships in the Asian Century

Asia’s rise is changing the world. This is a defining feature of the 21st century—the Asian century. These developments have profound implications for people everywhere. Asia’s extraordinary ascent has already changed the Australian economy, society and strategic environment. The scale and pace of the change still to come mean Australia is entering a truly transformative period in our history.
Australian Government (2012) Australia in the Asian Century p.1

Education in Australia needs to respond to these changes.

In this video Karen Cain, Deputy Regional Director in Victoria’s South Eastern Region, comments on this issue.

Video with Standard Audio:

How sister school partnerships support students engagement with Asia

Video with Audio Description:

How sister school partnerships support students engagement with Asia

It is a matter of policy.

The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, an agreement by all of Australia’s Education Ministers, states:

Global integration and international mobility have increased rapidly in the past decade. As a consequence, new and exciting opportunities for Australians are emerging ... India, China and other Asian nations are growing and their influence on the world is increasing. Australians need to become ‘Asia literate’, engaging and building strong relationships with Asia.

It has a foundation in the Australian Curriculum.

Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia is a cross-curriculum priority of the new Australian Curriculum. It is justified this way:

Many Asian nations are growing rapidly and are regionally and globally influential. Immigrants from all these countries have historically contributed to Australia’s development and will continue to do so in the future. An understanding of Asia underpins the capacity of Australian students to be active and informed citizens working together to build harmonious local, regional and global communities, and build Australia’s social, intellectual and creative capital. It also builds understanding of the diversity of cultures and peoples living in Australia, fosters social inclusion and cohesion and is vital to the prosperity of Australia.

Intercultural understanding is one of the general capabilities that students are required to develop. It is described as:

… an essential part of living with others in the diverse world of the twenty-first century. It assists young people to become responsible local and global citizens, equipped through their education for living and working together in an interconnected world.

It is a responsibility of school leaders.

Explaining the context of the work of Australian school leaders, AITSL’s Professional Standard for Principals states:

The world is rapidly changing with people becoming increasingly interconnected and interdependent. Education has a central and critical role in developing in all individuals the knowledge, understanding, skills and attributes to be successful citizens in the 21st century world. The interplay between the local, national and international environments is the context in which the principal works.

The authors of Australia in the Asian Century recommend that the following items be included as national objectives:

  • All Australian students will have the opportunity, and be encouraged, to undertake a continuous course of study in an Asian language throughout their years of schooling.
  • All students will have access to at least one priority Asian language; these will be Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Indonesian and Japanese. Every Australian student will have significant exposure to studies of Asia across the curriculum to increase their cultural knowledge and skills and enable them to be active in the region.
  • All schools will engage with at least one school in Asia to support the teaching of a priority Asian language, including through increased use of the National Broadband Network. (our emphasis)