« Maritime History Part 2: Exploring the South China Seas | Blog home | Gusti Nyoman Lempad »

business learning training articles new learning business training opportunities finance learning training deposit money learning making training art loan learning training deposits make learning your training home good income learning outcome training issue medicine learning training drugs market learning money training trends self learning roof training repairing market learning training online secure skin learning training tools wedding learning training jewellery newspaper learning for training magazine geo learning training places business learning training design Car learning and training Jips production learning training business ladies learning cosmetics training sector sport learning and training fat burn vat learning insurance training price fitness learning training program furniture learning at training home which learning insurance training firms new learning devoloping training technology healthy learning training nutrition dress learning training up company learning training income insurance learning and training life dream learning training home create learning new training business individual learning loan training form cooking learning training ingredients which learning firms training is good choosing learning most training efficient business comment learning on training goods technology learning training business secret learning of training business company learning training redirects credits learning in training business guide learning for training business cheap learning insurance training tips selling learning training abroad protein learning training diets improve learning your training home security learning training importance

The Australian government's new policy paper, Australia in the Asian Century, was released yesterday. It's late, and I don't mean the extra six months it took to be released. 'The Asian Century' has been going for quite a while, and Australia is still playing catch-up.

We have had some great government papers on Asia before, the Garnaut and Ingleson Reports being two of them, and it's a pity that governments have such short memories about those documents. The recommendations in the new White Paper about Mandarin, Hindi, Indonesian and Japanese being core languages for schools and universities is a pared-back version of the Ingleson Report's recommendations, and a sad reflection on the fact that governments seem to have given up on Thai and other significant Asian languages.

The problem with the language recommendations is that they are largely unfunded. Existing schemes are not being replaced, and while the government is prepared to spend large amounts elsewhere, it does not want to commit in other vital areas. The solution to lack of funding is that everyone can study on-line, especially through the new National Broadband Network. This seems a remarkable confusion between a medium and its content, and anyone who has done any on-line teaching will tell you, it's expensive to set up, difficult to maintain, and students always prefer face-to-face experiences. As someone with 15 years' experience in the area, I know that students find the discipline of self-learning involved very difficult, and the main virtue of on-line learning is that it is a good supplement to class-room experience.

Politicians of both sides have trotted out the dreadful cliche that 'Europe is our history and Asia our geography', well the news is that Asia is also our history. There are many excellent features to the Henry White Paper, so I don't want to sound too negative. It gives a realistic assessment of the significance of Asia, and hopefully will act as a wake-up call to those who are stuck in the fantasy of Australia being an Anglo-Saxon outpost that somehow ended up in the wrong part of the world. The changes that are needed in Australia to meet the challenge will be quite profound, and they include Australians coming to recognise that 'Asia' is not something 'out-there', but already integrated with Australia. At the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, I recently heard Alice Pung give a devastating and subtle critique of the exclusion of people of Asian descent from being 'Australian', and that mind-set is still powerful amongst many in our community.

One positive indication in the White Paper is that it will address the Anglo-Saxon mindset. The recommendations about having company directors, and other kinds of leaders with Asian experience and knowledge, are significant. It looks like the government will use funding mechanisms such as Gonski schools' funding, and perhaps the compacts with universities, to make educational institutions more responsive. This would be a strong positive feature of the White Paper's impact, since it would mean that integration of learning about Asia would become a core activity of schools and universities, not an 'add-on' dependent on special project money. At the University of Sydney we've been lucky to have a leadership committed to research and teaching about Asia, but the recent threats to axe Indonesian language in other institutions shows how much the attitudes of university executives count, as well as how important the economic bottom line is. Too many in universities think that Europe and the US are the centres of the world when it comes to theory, history, art or anything else of significance.

So perhaps we should celebrate the Henry White Paper with cynical optimism, and await the details.

About the Blog

A series of notes and discussions about current research I am undertaking about Indonesia.

Recommended links

Bali Indonesia Guide A page that combines tourist and cultural information

Indonesia matters Entertaining discussions on what's happening in Indonesia

Sejarah Indonesia

Kartun Indonesia