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Education has leading role in building Asian links

Education has leading role in building Asian links

Greater resources for getting Asia into the education curriculum are imperative, says Dr Pauline Keating, New Zealand Asian Studies Society President and Victoria University lecturer.

She spoke recently at the NZASIA conference in Auckland, at which Australian and American keynote speakers stressed the dangers to their countries’ national interests of a slackened commitment to education about Asia, and noted that New Zealand was in a similar predicament.

“The idea that, in a post-Cold War world, it is less important to know about our region is a nonsense”, she said.

“Events of the past two years have demonstrated tellingly that we ignore the history, politics, languages and economics of Asian countries at our peril.”

Pauline Keating and The University of Auckland’s New Zealand Asia Institute Director, Associate Professor James Kember, applaud the New Zealand government’s commitment to “getting serious with Asia”, a commitment signalled by the two-day Seriously Asia forum at Parliament this week. They hope that this commitment will translate into significant investment in education enterprises that aim to broaden knowledge of Asia among New Zealanders.

"Universities cannot wait for demand from students to drive an increased focus on Asian studies. The imperatives of a knowledge society in a globalised world require that research leads the way," Dr Keating says.

"The research that is being done is done well, but the focus is narrow. New Zealand has far too few specialists in the fields of Southeast Asia, South Asia, the economies of north Asia."

Dr Keating and Professor Kember say that taking Asia seriously requires knowing Asia well.

"If the Asia 2000 Foundation's Seriously Asia project is to fulfil its promises, it must promote research about Asia and the systematic study of Asia in schools, colleges and universities," Dr Keating says.

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