The Asia region exerts enormous influence globally and in Australia. Asia is the most populous region in the world, being home to two-thirds of the world’s people. Some of the world’s most dynamic, varied and complex societies are in the Asia region. It will soon also be both the largest producer and consumer of goods and services in the world.
In 2014, 11 of Australia’s top 15 export markets (goods and services) were in the Asia region, making up nearly 71 per cent of all exports. As well, approximately 58 per cent of Australia’s two-way trade occurred with countries of the Asia region. The economic importance of successful Australian engagement with Asia is undeniable.
Australia is increasingly looking to Asia strategically, politically and culturally as well as economically. Correspondingly, Asia literacy is going to be a key requirement of our young people, as Australia seeks to strengthen its ties in the Asia region and be an effective contributor to the wellbeing of the region as a whole. For this, young people will need broad insight into the histories of the countries of the Asia region, including their shared history with Australia, its complex and diverse cultures and an understanding of the contemporary challenges and opportunities that exist for the region. By knowing something of Asian societies, cultures, beliefs and environments, they will deepen their intercultural understanding, enrich their own lives and increase the likelihood of successful participation in the ‘Asian century’, for themselves and Australia as a whole.
The Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia priority provides a regional context for learning in all areas of the curriculum. It reflects Australia’s extensive engagement with Asia in social, cultural, political and economic spheres.
Many Asian nations are growing rapidly and are regionally and globally influential. Immigrants from all these countries have historically contributed to Australia’s development and will continue to do so in the future. An understanding of Asia underpins the capacity of Australian students to be active and informed citizens working together to build harmonious local, regional and global communities, and build Australia’s social, intellectual and creative capital. It also builds understanding of the diversity of cultures and peoples living in Australia, fosters social inclusion and cohesion and is vital to the prosperity of Australia.
This priority will ensure that students learn about and recognise the diversity within and between the countries of the Asia region. Students will develop knowledge and understanding of Asian societies, cultures, beliefs and environments, and the connections between the peoples of Asia, Australia and the rest of the world. Asia literacy provides students with the skills to communicate and engage with the peoples of Asia so they can effectively live, work and learn in the region.
Asia can be defined in geographical terms, but it can also be described in terms of cultural, religious, historical and language boundaries or commonalities.
While it includes West and Central Asia, in Australian schools, studies of Asia will pay particular attention to the sub-regions of: