Expert: Australian Students in Dark as China Century Dawns

Ready or not? (torres21/flickr)

A nation’s schools prepare its future workforce. It follows that future economic trends ought to inform what students learn. Not so, if you examine Australian school systems, according to Jenny McGregor, a member of the board of directors of Asia Society in Australia.

Writing in The Age, McGregor discussed the dangerous gap between what young Australians are learning — rather what they are not learning — and the realities of the future global knowledge economy.

“Two decades ago, Australia traded with China at about the level we now trade with Malaysia,” McGregor wrote. “Then it jumped.”

McGregor cautioned that Australia’s education system is not keeping pace with the realities of emerging economic trends. China is Australia’s largest trading partner by far, and there’s no indication any other trade relationship will come close to that status. McGregor is concerned that Australia is not investing enough into this bi-lateral relationship: “Is it enough that just 300 non-Chinese-heritage students studied Mandarin at year 12 level in Australia in 2009? Are we engaging fully in this so-called Asian century?”

Read MacCarthy’s entire call to action.