Tag: Hindi

Sanya Verma gets VCE Premier’s Award for Hindi 2020

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Sanya Verma (Right). Photo-Supplied.

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 9 September 2021: Sanya Verma, last month was awarded the VCE Premier’s Award for Hindi 2020, for the year 12 level. Sanya passed out her VCE from the St Margaret’s School, Berwick, and studied Hindi at the Victorian School of Languages (VCL) Centre in Dandenong. She obtained the highest VCE score for Hindi in Victoria in 2020.

Sanya started her Hindi from class 7, her primary motive being to read, write and improve oral skills in the language. Sanya’s Hindi teacher in 2020 was Bhavya Shah, who also teaches Hindi at the VSL Distance Education (although she returned to India recently for family reasons).

She believes being able to develop a skill that you can carry life-long and being able to communicate with others is such a unique skill that we all need to have.

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Sanya Verma. Photo-Supplied

Sanya recommends senior students studying VCE Hindi should aim to undertake unique activities regularly to polish their language skills. She says, “If you want to succeed in VCE you need to be able to stand out in your ideas and the way you think.”

In the future, Verma hopes to work in the field of Data Science and IT and firmly believes her language skills will help take her career to a world platform.

“Families interested in their children studying Hindi with the Victorian School of Languages, from Foundation level to VCE, should go to https://www.vsl.vic.edu.au/. Hindi is taught at VSL centers in Berwick, Dandenong, Blackburn, Caroline Springs, Epping, Glen Waverley, Melton, Sunshine, Werribee, Shepparton, Wodonga, and Mildura. Hindi is also offered through Distance Education (VCE only)
Enrolments for 2022 open in mid-November 2021, informs Heather Rae, Area Manager, VSL SouthEast (Dandenong, Berwick, and Hampton Park).

Heather Rae can be contacted at – heatherr@vsl.vic.edu.au

Axing protection for national strategic languages is no way to build ties with Asia

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By Melissa Crouch*

We all had hoped for a positive start to 2021, but that has not been the case for Australia’s engagement in the region. The Australian government has shown disregard for the importance of our ties with Asia by axing its commitment to national strategic languages.

The Commonwealth has identified the study of languages such as Indonesian as being of national strategic importance since 2006.

From 2013, the government committed to promoting national strategic languages. These included Arabic, Indonesian, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Japanese and Korean. The list potentially included any other languages identified by the Commonwealth.

This priority list was clear recognition that Australians must improve their capacity in these languages to be equipped for the Asian Century.

Funding terms no longer protect languages
One way the government promoted and protected these languages was through Commonwealth funding agreements with universities.

Every few years, the Commonwealth comes to an agreement with each university on the terms and conditions of the funding it provides. A condition of these agreements was that a university had to consult with the Commonwealth and obtain its approval if it planned to close a particular course. This included courses in nationally strategic languages.

A university could not close a language program involving a nationally strategic language without government approval. This condition was important symbolically as well as practically. It emphasised to universities the importance of commitment to Asian languages.

Funding agreements every year up to 2020 included protection for national strategic languages. This year the provision has suddenly disappeared from the agreements without consultation.

What this demonstrates is the nonsensical nature of the government’s new funding scheme for universities. It appears to offer an incentive for students to study a language by reducing fees for these courses. In reality, the government has made it easier for universities to cancel a language program.

And the government is aware several universities have proposed closing language programs as their budgets feel the pinch from the COVID-19 pandemic. These include La Trobe (Hindi and Indonesian), Swinburne (all foreign languages), Murdoch (Indonesian), Western Sydney University (Indonesian) and Sunshine Coast (Indonesian). Removing protection for national strategic languages shows the government’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific region is mere lip service. (Since the original announcements, the programs at La Trobe and Murdoch have been given temporary reprieves.)

Universities will lose by axing languages

From enhanced diplomatic relations and cultural engagement to trade relations and social and religious ties, language learning has no shortage of benefits for individuals, communities and the nation as a whole.

Universities must acknowledge what they stand to lose if they close their language programs. Recent decisions like Swinburne’s to close its Japanese and Chinese programs, now confirmed to staff, come at a real cost to the university.

The best universities in Australia know they attract students by leading with world-class research. However, a shrinking number of universities can credibly lay claim to world-class research that is relevant to the region in terms of language programs and academic country expertise. Any university can pay consultants to produce a slick marketing campaign but that is meaningless if the university lacks the expertise to back it up.

Closing language programs could lead to a loss of international students, particularly higher degree students, on top of those already lost to COVID-related border closures. These students are often attracted by specific country expertise that Australian universities and academics have to offer.

Australia was once known as the mecca of the academic world for Asian studies expertise. The breadth and diversity of its language programs was an integral part of that. It’s time to rebuild that status.

A blow to regional engagement

By cancelling language programs, universities are forfeiting their leading role in promoting deep and long-term engagement with our region. Quite simply, the lack of commitment of many universities demonstrates a gap in deep understanding of the importance of the Indo-Pacific to Australia.

The region has no shortage of challenges and its political, economic and social well-being directly affect Australia. COVID-19 is a stark example of this. Australia can’t afford to be monolingual in its engagement with the region.

What happened to a positive start to meet the challenges of a post-2020 world? Surely our government with its stated ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region must prioritise structural arrangements with our universities that ensure the next generation can equip themselves with the language skills they need for the Asian Century.

* Professor and Associate Dean Research, Law School, UNSW
Source- The Conversation, 9 February 2021 (Under Creative Commons Licence)
AITAC

The battle for Hindi at La Trobe: Ball in the University’s court

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By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 27 November 2020: The decision of the La Trobe University to scrap its Hindi teaching has generated unprecedented opposition from all sections of society. Political parties, community groups, and members have called upon the University to rescind its decision. The ‘Hindi Action Group’ which spearheaded the opposition roped in political leaders and the community highlighting the issue.

A signature campaign that attracted 2,463 people has been submitted to the Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe University. Reports indicate the matter has been taken up by a Consultative Committee of the University. Earlier, Ian Woodford who teaches Hindi there submitted a proposal to help the university in this matter plagued by post COVID revenue shortfall and falling student numbers.

Saksham Katyal, volunteer ‘Hindi Action Group’ says, “A language is a bridge between two and supporting Hindi will become a bridge of prosperity for both India and Australia.”

“The response from all quarters has been positive and now the ball is in the court of the La Trobe University to take a positive decision, ” says Vikrant Kishore, filmmaker & academic, actively working on the issue.

Some suggestions made to the University are:

1.Alternatives that allow the university to maintain a Hindi program for less cost, while also attracting more students.
2.The university must take into account the overwhelming support that the Hindi program has received from the public, politicians, and community groups.
3.Since multiple federal ministers have indicated a willingness to explore funding options, thus, it would be premature to close the Hindi Program before the Vice Chancellor’s office has a chance to engage directly with these ministers.
4.The Review Committee at La Trobe must request the Vice Chancellor’s office to do engage with politicians, and the community to understand their sentiment/response, and how best they can utilize the support offered.
5.We hope that some arrangement can be made for 3 years of support for the Hindi Language Programme at La Trobe, to help us get through the crisis.
6.We would support any University campaign to raise awareness of the Hindi program among students from India.
7.If immediate commitment cannot be obtained from the government, in that case, one year delay on any decision, so that we continue to explore various possibilities.
8.In case if it is decided that the Hindi major must be eliminated, we would like to urge the University to keep a core number of Hindi subjects operating. These would be electives that operate as “service subjects” to other programs and departments in the university.

The ‘Hindi Action Group’ reveals Federal Labor’s Peter Khalil Member For Wills, Matthew Guy MP, Victoria, Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens, Intaj Khan, former Councillor Wyndham City Council among others have raised the issue or written letters to concerned authorities.

Federal Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs has assured the ‘Hindi Action Group’ during a telephonic conference he will help the community stop the La Trobe University from scrapping the Hindi program. His assurance came after a telephonic discussion with the Group.

Meanwhile, the Indian Consul General Mr. Raj Kumar has assured all support and assistance to help the community retain the Hindi program at the University. Mr. Raj Kumar was talking to a delegation of community members who met him recently at the Indian Consulate briefing him about the latest in the issue and the background behind it.

He is likely to meet the La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor soon and is calling a community meeting to discuss the matter.

The ‘Hindi Action Group’ has been inundated with phone calls and emails of support for raising the issue and taking it to its possible logical conclusion.

Melbourne Indian Consul takes up La Trobe Hindi issue

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 24 November 2020: The Indian Consul General here has assured all support and assistance to help the community retain the Hindi program at the La Trobe University. Consul General Mr. Raj Kumar was talking to a delegation of community members who met him today at the Indian Consulate briefing him about the latest in the issue and the background behind it.

Mr. Raj Kumar listened to the main points of the issue and how possible steps can be taken to boost efforts to keep the Hindi program going at the University. He is likely to meet the La Trobe University VC next month in this regard.

The diplomat also urged for more feedback on the issue to see what more can be done in this direction. He has also called a meeting of community organizations to discuss the matter.

La Trobe University decided to scrap its Hindi program in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic revenue shortfall and falling student numbers. La Trobe and ANU are the only universities teaching Hindi in Australia. Hindi is also offered as a subject in VCE in different states and Hindi schools supported by the Victorian School of Languages teach the language at the beginning state in weekend centers.

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