No room for Hindi & other Indian languages in the National Australian Curriculum

By Dr. Dinesh Srivastava

Melbourne: It took me nearly ten years struggle to get Hindi recognised at the VCE level in 1993. This
recognition currently enables students to study Hindi after school hours, usually on Saturday mornings and in one case on a Tuesday evening after school has finished. This puts a lot of responsibility on parents and many students miss out as they have other engagements (e.g.compulsory sports in private schools or optional sports, music, swimming etc. on Saturdays).

So many students miss out on learning Hindi. Therefore, when Kevin Rudd as the Prime- Minister (and now the Foreign Minister) announced that a new emphasis will be placed on Asian languages, I hoped that Hindi as the national language of India, a country, which is emerging as the second most powerful economy in Asia will certainly be considered for inclusion in the Australian National Curriculum, enabling it to be taught in the mainstream schools in Australia.
However, I was disappointed to see a document published by the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (ACARA) titled “Draft
Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Languages”, January, 2011. This document can be accessed on the following website: http://www.acara.edu.au/languages.html

Section 73 of this document on page 29 is titled “Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia”
and emphasises the need for learning Asian Languages. However, the document completely ignores the need for studying Hindi or any other Indian Language.

In section 79 (page 35), the document lists three stages of the development of curriculum in languages in Australia and mentions the following languages in various stages:

Stage 1: (i) Australian Languages, (ii) Chinese, Italian

Stage 2: French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean and Spanish

Stage 3: Arabic, Modern Greek, Vietnamese.

Arabic and Spanish are categorised as languages of global importance and Indonesian, Japanese and Korean are categorised as languages of ‘national priority’. Hindi or any other Indian language does not rate a mention. Why?

Is it because all Indians speak English language or is it because India is not a part of or insignificant part of Asia? The criteria used in the selection are far from clear or convincing.

It may be noted here that once Hindi was granted recognition at the VCE level, it became much easier for other Indian languages to obtain the same recognition. Therefore, may I suggest that the whole Indian community raise their voice against the non-inclusion of Hindi and other Indian languages in the Australian National Curriculum and write letters of protest to ACARA with copies to their local members of the parliament?

ACARA’s postal address is: Level 10, 255 Pitt Street, Sydney, N.S.W.-2000. Their e-mail addresses are: consultation@acara.edu.au and info@acara.edu.au for general inquiries.

Individuals can also give their feedback on line at the website mentioned above. Organisations can also offer their support to a joint submission being prepared in Sydney by sending their message of support to Sanjeev Bhakri at sanbhakri@gmail.com.

- dsrivastava@optusnet.com.au
Source: SAT, March 2011

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