Asian studies have been elevated to a national priority in schools alongside literacy and numeracy, following a landmark agreement between the federal and state governments on educating Australian children for an Asian future.
I’m extremely happy to see this happen. When I came over from Malaysia, I was surprised that they never placed an importance on history in the schools here, especially of the Asian region. For example, a lot of kids in those years (and most likely even now) never knew that Malaysia was a British colony just like Australia was. And considering that the Anzac spirit is such an integral part of the Australian psyche, it was quite dissapointing at first for me that kids of my age then did not understand the cause and events of World War 2 – in particular those that happened in Asia.
One of the other bigger things that perplexed them was how come the Chinese are everywhere at once in different countries – that alone is an important topic to be familiar with, seeing as how China is shaping up to be the economic engine that will be driving the region in the foreseeable future.
From the same article:
All Australian students should be able to explain the term “Asia”, have some understanding of the diversity of people, cultures and belief systems in the region and to understand Asia’s economic and strategic importance for Australia. That includes speaking “with respect and knowledge about Islam”, Indonesia and Malaysia’s majority religion. Students should also “increasingly be able to communicate in one or more Asian language.”
Having an understanding and cultural familiarity of other races and religions can only help this country and its people. The most obvious benefit would be the economic well-being of Australia. And at the very least, xenophobia and racism would be reduced.