Business partnership says we need to educate for Asia

Monday, 16 November 2009

Leading New Zealand business and employee organisations are urging schools to prepare young New Zealanders for the future by teaching them more about Asia,  says Asia New Zealand Foundation Director Dr Richard Grant.

Dr Grant says the Business Education Partnership, a joint initiative between the Asia New Zealand Foundation and the business community, is an urgent call for the New Zealand public and educationalists to think deeply about how we all can prepare our young people for a future increasingly dominated by Asian economies.

“It is not a choice we have to offer these skills but an imperative,” Dr Grant said. “It is encouraging that the companies and organisations that are signatories also see the critical strategic value of this initiative.”

The launch of the Business Education Partnership today is a declaration by 43 leading New Zealand companies and employee organisations to call greater attention to educating young New Zealanders about Asia.

The declaration urges greater attention for the learning about Asia in our schools. It says building knowledge of Asia, its cultures, languages and peoples is a priority task for our education system, so that New Zealand has a workforce that is better informed about the region and better equipped to deal with it.

All the business signatories commit themselves to working with school communities to see that this partnership can help deliver greater Asia Awareness to fellow New Zealanders.

The Business Education Partnership launch will take place in Wellington today (Monday November 16) at 5.30pm.

Dr Grant says the New Zealand Curriculum acknowledges the importance of New Zealand students having opportunities to explore future focus issues such as globalisation and citizenship. “Asia is central to this global understanding.”

“It’s time for all New Zealanders to begin to join the dots, to acknowledge our growing interdependence with a region that will have a huge impact on world affairs in the 21st century. Many New Zealanders already have been affected by Asia in some way, whether by travel, trade or with people in their communities,” Dr Grant said.

“We need greater emphasis in education on the Asian region to prepare young New Zealanders for a world that’s very different from the one we grew up in.”

The Business Education Partnership launch today will be accompanied by the release of the New Zealand Curriculum and Asia Guide.

“This document will provide school leaders, senior management teams and curriculum leaders with knowledge and information about the importance of being Asia Aware and using Asia as a context in teaching and learning programmes.”

The New Zealand Curriculum and Asia Guide includes school stories and comments from principals, teachers and students already engaging with Asia and Asian communities as well as a series of questions to trigger discussion in schools about how to become more Asia Aware.

“Our aim is that by 2015, all young New Zealanders will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to take advantage of the opportunities to live, work and interact with Asian communities in New Zealand and with the peoples and countries of Asia,” Dr Grant said.

The Business Education Partnership is based on one of the recommendations that came out of the Action Asia Business Summit in 2007 which called for more Asian content in New Zealand schools. The BEP initiative is championed by the Action Asia Advisory Group, a representative group of New Zealand business leaders.


Charles Mabbett, Media Adviser

Last updated: 29 Jan 2013