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Federal Labor's National Asian Language and Studies in Schools program: preparing Australia for the future.



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FEDERAL LABOR LEADER KEVIN RUDD MP AND

SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING STEPHEN SMITH MP

FEDERAL LABOR’S NATIONAL ASIAN LANGUAGE AND STUDIES IN SCHOOLS PROGRAM - PREPARING AUSTRALIA FOR THE FUTURE

Kevin Rudd tonight announced Federal Labor’s plan to invest in a National Asian Languages in Schools program - to better prepare young Australians to compete in the future with our Asian neighbours.

This is about securing and creating Australian jobs by giving young Australians the skills they need for the future.

The $68.6 million National Asian Languages and Studies in Australian Schools Program will work with the States and Territories to promote the study of languages such as Japanese, Indonesian, Mandarin and Korean in high schools.

Under the plan, Federal Labor’s National Curriculum Board will oversee the teaching of languages in schools and work with the States and Territories to increase the number of qualified language teachers across Australia.

The National Curriculum Board will also monitor language courses in schools to ensure consistency across the nation and provide incentives for students to become proficient in a language other than English.

Over four years, the funding will provide:

• Additional Asian language classes in schools; • Teacher training and support; and • Development of specialist curriculum for students who display advanced abilities in Asian languages and Asian studies programs.

To build a secure and economically strong nation for the 21st century, we need to engage with our regional neighbours.

One of the most effective ways to achieve that is by providing the best opportunity for young Australians to become familiar with the language and cultures of our principle economic partners across Asia.

In 2002, the Howard Government abolished the National Asian Languages and Studies in Australian Schools Scheme. It ceased on January 1, 2003.

There is no longer a dedicated Asian languages program in Australia.

Only 13.4 per cent of Year 12 students take a foreign language, while only half our school-aged population has had any form of language learning.

In contrast, it is compulsory in Finland for school children to study three languages, while in the Netherlands, 99 per cent of Year 12 students are learning a second language.

In 2004, more than 25,000 Year 12 students studied a language in Australia.

Only six per cent of Year 12 students studied an Asian language. Of those, 21 per cent of those studying a language studied Mandarin or Cantonese; 19 per cent Japanese and seven per cent Indonesian. We want that to increase.

Federal Labor will work with State and Territory Governments to increase the number of qualified language teachers and to retain those teachers who make such a valuable contribution to educating our children.

This is the latest addition to Federal Labor’s plan for an Education Revolution to give our children the best possible start in life, lift long-term productivity growth and build our future prosperity.

Federal Labor has already announced that a Rudd Labor Government will:

o Invest $450 million to provide four year olds with 15 hours a week of high quality early childhood education; o Provide $111 million to encourage students to study maths and science at university and use their degrees within the maths and sciences professions, particularly, teaching; o Support parental choice by funding all schools, whether they are government, non-

government, religious or secular, based on need and fairness; o Invest $62.5 million on a program to fund the construction of shared facilities between government and non-government schools; o Introduce a National Action Plan on Literacy and Numeracy; and o Set up a National Curriculum Board to develop a rigorous, consistent and quality

curriculum for all Australian students - from kindergarten to year 12.

CANBERRA MAY 10, 2007

LACHLAN HARRIS (RUDD) 0417 592 338

ADAM SIDDIQUE (SMITH) 0407 473 630