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Asian studies in schools found wanting

Asian studies in schools found wanting

There needs to be more professional support for secondary school teachers wanting to teach Asian studies, says an Asia New Zealand Foundation report.

Although it is generally accepted that the teaching of Asian studies to young New Zealanders is necessary in preparing them for the future, the study shows there is still a low frequency of Asian content in secondary schools.

Many teachers embarking on studies of Asia suffered a lack of confidence about the subject matter with focus groups revealing that teachers’ knowledge base was limited when it involved Asian countries.

“Teachers want to teach topics properly and would hesitate if they felt under-prepared or ill equipped,” the report said.

Respondents rated the three highest barriers to including Asian content as availability of professional development, availability of resources and assessment commitments.

Highest motivators included Asian students in class, student interest and current events.

“These findings do not vary too greatly from those found in a primary school survey conducted two years ago,” said Janine Chin, Asia:NZ’s schools coordinator. “There is an obvious demand and need for more professional support which Asia:NZ’s schools programme will continue to work on and in collaboration with educational organisations and the wider community both in New Zealand and offshore.”

Entitled ‘Studies of Asia in New Zealand secondary schools’ and carried out by Educating NZ, the report identifies reasons why Asia is, or is not, included in secondary classroom programmes and ways to support the promotion of Asian studies.

For a copy of the executive summary and full report, visit

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