Business Leaders Call for Continued Asia Focus in School Language and Cultural Studies

BCA Acting Chief Executive Maria Tarrant has joined a group of leading Australian business figures to urge the federal government not to drop its Asia studies and languages program, due to end this year.

In a letter addressed to all 226 Australian federal MPs, the group says the country’s future depends on a bipartisan approach to our understanding of and relationship with Asia.

Signatories of the letter are:

  • Sid Myer, Chairman of Asialink and the Asia Society, Australia
  • Justin Breheny, Chief Executive Officer Asia, Insurance Australia Group
  • Sir Rod Eddington, Chairman of J.P. Morgan Australia and New Zealand
  • Hugh Morgan AC
  • Heather Ridout, Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group
  • Maria Tarrant, Acting Chief Executive, Business Council of Australia
  • Frank Tudor, Chairman and National President, Australia China Business Council
  • John Walker AM, Chairman of the Australia Korea Business Council

The business leaders write that Australia will risk its wealth, harmony and security unless significant government investment goes to equipping the next generation of Australians to compete in the ‘Asian Century’.

They say students must be equipped with the knowledge of the cultures and the languages of not only the fastest growing region in the world, but the region that is on our doorstep.

The letter asks MPs to encourage the study of Asia in schools and to support all federal and state ministers of education in their commitment to include Asia as a priority across the curriculum and at all levels of schooling.

Asialink statistics released with the letter indicate that:

  • On current trends, in four to five years, there will be no students studying Indonesian language at Year 12.
  • Some 94 per cent Chinese language learners in Australia have a Chinese background.
  • Studies of Asia not part of school curriculum; very few Year 12 students learn anything at all about Asia in History, Geography, Economics, Literature and the Arts.

A copy of the letter sent to government MPs can be downloaded below.

Joint letter to federal MPs calling for continued Asia focus in school language and cultural studies