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Updated: October 31, 2012 12:45 IST

Hindi to be taught in Australian schools

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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard during her ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on October 17, 2012.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard during her ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on October 17, 2012.

Julia Gillard says Asia’s rise is not only unstoppable, it is gathering pace

Australia on Sunday unveiled an ambitious plan to forge deeper links with India and other booming economies of the region, including through teaching languages like Hindi and Mandarin in its schools.

“While Australia was changing — Asia was changing too. Whatever else this century brings, it will bring Asia’s return to global leadership, Asia’s rise,” said Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who was recently on her maiden official visit to India.

“This [Asia’s rise] is not only unstoppable, it is gathering pace,” Ms. Gillard said, releasing a sweeping policy blueprint entitled ‘Asian Century White Paper’ aimed at maximising links with Asia, which will power Australia into the world’s top 10 wealthiest nations by 2025.

“Above all, success for an open Australia in a middle-class Asia starts in the classrooms, training centres and lecture theatres of this nation,” the Prime Minister said.

All Australian schools would engage with at least one school in Asia to support the teaching of a priority Asian language — Mandarin, Hindi, Indonesian or Japanese, she said.

“Unlike in ages past, we will not settle for a student sitting at the back of the class not learning and then drifting away from school early. We can no longer tell ourselves this is all OK because a manual job will materialise for the child who cannot read, write or count,” she said.

Ms. Gillard noted that Australia was a friend of all countries.

“We are supporting the stabilising presence of the United States, a strong defence force, building habits of trust and cooperation in our region,” she said, adding “We have an ally in Washington — respect in Beijing — and more, an open door in Jakarta and Delhi, Tokyo and Seoul.”

Ms. Gillard said the region would be home to most of the world’s middle class by as early as 2025.

“This is good news for Australia and it should drive a profound change in our thinking about our economic relationship with Asia,” the Prime Minister said.

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