Our first two days exhibiting at the 2013 NZPF Conference in Hamilton have underscored the fact that there is a growing need for Mandarin as an in-school language option for all New Zealand students with a genuine interest from school principals across the board. And with a talk on Friday by John McKinnon, executive director of the Asia New Zealand Foundation, on why ‘Asia Aware’ students are important, delegates and speakers alike clearly acknowledge the key role of Asia in New Zealand’s future.
A recent survey commissioned by the foundation to determine the ‘Asia Readiness’ of New Zealand secondary students found that only 9% of NZ secondary students were what they considered to be “Asia ready”. The “Asia Readiness Framework”, the key facets of which are knowledge of Asia, cultural intelligence and language, recognises that being “Asia Ready” is as much about an interest and willingness to engage with Asia as it is about the ability to communicate in an Asian language.
The report found that although most New Zealand secondary school students understand the importance of Asia, they feel under-prepared to engage confidently with the region – a finding which clearly demonstrates that “there is a need to increase Asia-related content across the entire school curriculum.”
With the conference theme for 2013 being “Power to Innovate”, we’re looking forward to hearing about some innovative ideas and new solutions on how best to develop “global citizens” who understand the nuances of Asian culture and business practices and who can speak Mandarin and/or other Asian languages.
See the full survey results here