Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA] is a federal body which is responsible for the development of national curriculum. It has released its draft curriculum for second tier languages which is open for consultation until 7th April 2011. People can make their comments and submit suggestions.
Here is the ACARA draft report and also the link for comments and feedback.
Recognising the importance of languages in addition to English [which will obviously remain the primary language], ACARA has recommended 11 second tier languages which should become part of the national curriculum. In the first stage, they will be Mandarin and Italian. Later on Korean, Japanese, Indonesian [clubbed together as national priority], French, German and Spanish will be added. This will then be followed by Arabic, Modern Greek and Vietnamese.
Pupils will be required to learn one of these languages for 300-400 hours upto year 6, 130-160 hours in year 7 and 8, 130-160 hours in years 9 and 10 and further 200-240 hours in year 11 and 12.
Many states have an active second language programme but NSW is not one of them. This is so despite clear evidence that learning a second language helps broaden the horizon, understand other cultures and improve performance generally.
Hindi, the national language of India, is not even mentioned anywhere. This is a serious omission, ignoring the importance and relevance of this language for Australian students and Australia generally.
I want to clarify that ACARA is not recommending any language to be considered equal to English. These recommendations are about the 2nd language, in addition to English.
Here is why ACARA should include Hindi in the national curriculum.
- Substantial number of Hindi speaking population within the rapidly growing Indian Australian community of about 350,000 which puts it in top 10 and higher than Indonesian and Korean.
- Indian Australians are now Australia’s fourth biggest migrant community.
- India is the second largest source of students and overseas skilled workers in Australia after the UK.
- India is now Australia’s third largest export market, up from 13th a decade ago, and our 7th largest two-way trading partner. In 2009 two-way trade grew to almost $21 billion—a 9.5 per cent increase on the previous year [A$16.51 billion in goods and A$4.36 billion in services].
- Hindi, the most prominent of all the Indian languages, is the official language of India and is the second-most spoken language in the world (after Mandarin). It is spoken by 600 millions.
- Less than 11% of India’s population speaks English. Expertise in Hindi would have important consequences not only for productive cultural, trade and diplomatic exchanges, but also for intelligence and security issues between Australia and India.
- Having proficiency in Hindi, Australian businesses will have a significant advantage in all sectors of economy but specially so in behavioural and soft skills across sectors, IT, Retail, Automobile, Sales, Service, Financial services, Banking, Telecom, Manufacturing, Hospitality and Healthcare-in Australia and India.
At least in NSW, the increasing demand of Hindi is not met by weekend community schools called Saturday School of Community Languages (SSCL) Centers in Liverpool, Hills Sports High School, Strathfield or other Hindi Schools run as part of NSW Community Languages program (Thornleigh, Green Valley, Rooty Hill, Girraween, Quakers Hill) appropriately due to time and distance issues. Only one school in NSW, West Ryde Primary School, provides Hindi teaching in the regular school timetable.
By introducing Hindi in normal hours, at least in some selected population centers of Sydney and major regional cities, it is likely, just like Japanese, that the enrolment will increase substantially, not only from students from Indian Australian community but also from non-Indian background communities.
The argument for including Hindi in the national curriculum is strong and compelling. It needs to be taught in the schools as a regular subject, like other languages, not just in weekend schools, run by community groups.
Australia has a significant strategic, economic and cultural interests in Asia, in particular China, India, Japan and Indonesia. While taking care of the importance of China, Japan, Korea and Indonesia, India must not be left out. “Missed opportunities” can not be allowed to be the game in regards to India.
ACARA should review it recommendations, modify the curriculum and include Hindi in it as one of the priority languages.
Senator Chris Evans, Minister of Education and Kevin Rudd, Minister of Foreign Affairs should give a serious consideration about the merits of Hindi for the inclusion in the national curriculum.
Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/02-04-11
[Some input for this Blog has been taken from multiple sources, including Ms Mala Mehta, Mr Jagdish Chawla and Mr Tara Chand Sharma, with thanks & gratitude]. Details on request.