[lg policy] Australia: Opposition's language plan has billion dollar price tag
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Fri Jun 21 14:37:27 UTC 2013
Opposition's language plan has billion dollar price tag
Updated Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:12pm AEST
The Federal Opposition says its plan to dramatically increase the numbers
of high school students studying a foreign language will cost about a
billion dollars. The Coalition wants 40 per cent of Year 12 students to be
taking a language other than English within a decade. It concedes the
target is ambitious, while the Government calls it 'unrealistic'.
Source: PM <http://www.abc.net.au/pm> | Duration: 3min 33sec
*Topics:* languages <http://www.abc.net.au/news/topic/languages>,
PETER LLOYD: The Federal Opposition has put $1 billion price tag on its
school language policy.
If it wins in September, the Coalition will spend the money over a decade
to deliver on its promise of dramatically boosting the number of year 12
students studying a foreign language.
It admits the target is ambitious. The Government calls it unrealistic.
>>From Canberra, James Glenday reports.
JAMES GLENDAY: The number of students studying languages at school has long
been in decline, and during last year's budget reply speech, the Opposition
Leader Tony Abbott promised to turn the trend around.
TONY ABBOTT: My commitment tonight is to work urgently with the states to
ensure that at least 40 per cent of Year 12 students are once more taking a
language other than English within a decade.
MPS: Hear, hear.
JAMES GLENDAY: It's a big commitment.
According to figures from the Education Department, only 11 per cent of
year 12 students are currently studying a foreign language.
The Opposition's education spokesman Christopher Pyne concedes the target
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It's true that there'll be less students studying a
foreign language in year 12 than there would be for example in year 11, and
less again than there will be in year 10, and that's because of the way our
university entrance system works, where people need to reach an ATAR score
and, therefore, they'll choose the subjects in which they believe that they
can maximise their chances of high scores, and that obviously therefore
means that 40 per cent over the course of their schooling is a very
Forty per cent of children doing it in year 12 for their ATAR scores is
JAMES GLENDAY: However, he says it can be done by spending about $1 billion
over a decade to train language teachers and make Asian languages in
particular "more desirable"' for students.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Forty per cent of children doing year 12 in 10 years we
hope will have studied a foreign language for at least 10 years over the
course of their schooling.
JAMES GLENDAY: So, will have studied at some point, not necessarily
studying it in year 12?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: The commitment is 40 per cent of students in year 12 and
that commitment remains rock solid.
JAMES GLENDAY: The Government is also committed to increasing the number of
students studying languages but it doesn't have a fixed target.
PETER GARRETT: I think it's very unrealistic to set a target like that.
JAMES GLENDAY: The School Education Minister, Peter Garrett, says he's
following the advice of the Asian Century White Paper and moving to make at
least one Asian language available to all students by 2025.
PETER GARRETT: The advice that we have and the view that I have is you
can't really make this something that is compulsory. It's not only about
students being learn an Asian language in the classroom - that's important
- but it's also about them wanting to learn it, and that means, as a
country, us recognising and advocating for the importance of cultural
literacy and Asian languages and Asia generally.
JAMES GLENDAY: Academics and education researchers say both approaches have
merit. But Kathe Kirby from the Asia Education Foundation says governments
should aim to teach all students a foreign language.
KATHE KIRBY: We need to have a school education in Australia that's
equipping our young people for their 21st century world, not a 19th century
JAMES GLENDAY: And Professor Tim Lindsey from the University of Melbourne
warns both sides of politics need to commit large amounts of money over at
least a decade if they're to succeed.
TIM LINDSEY: We have seen the market respond to investment by government,
but the longer we leave it, the more money it's going to take and we're
already talking about, based on previous experience, hundreds of millions a
year to get things going again.
PETER LLOYD: Academic Tim Lindsey ending that report from James Glenday.
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