SYDNEY, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- Mandarin and Italian will be the first two languages to be taught in primary and high schools across Australia from 2014 under the national curriculum, School Education Minister Peter Garrett announced on Wednesday.
In releasing the draft Foundation to Year 10 Australian Curriculum: Languages for Chinese Mandarin and Italian papers for public consultation on Wednesday, Garrett said the government acknowledges that Chinese and Italian are the two most common second languages spoken in Australia.
"This fact combined with the long-standing historical and cultural connections between these two countries and Australia is why they were chosen as the first curricula to be developed," Garrett said in a statement.
"Chinese Mandarin is a priority language under the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, which aims to promote the learning of Asian languages and build Asia literacy capabilities in Australian schools and students."
The school education minister said specific learning pathways will be built into the Chinese Mandarin curriculum for the first time to meet the needs of students who are Australian-born and overseas-born Chinese speakers attending school in Australia, as well as students that want to learn Chinese as their second language.
"The government believes it's absolutely essential to enable students to learn to their best capacity and to be prepared for the jobs of the future in an Asian region where the economies, in particular of China and India, are incredibly important," Garrett told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.
Other subjects are currently being developed for the Australian Curriculum, including Japanese, Indonesian, German, French, Vietnamese, Arabic, Spanish, Korean, and Modern Greek.