New large-scale Asia literacy programs are not necessary for Australia to prosper in the Asian Century. There are approximately 2 billion English speakers globally, while English is spoken by about 800 million people in Asia and is widely used as an official language in the region.
Multicultural Australia is also home to approximately 2.2 million speakers of Asian languages, including more than 650,000 speakers of Chinese languages, and extensive Asian cultural literacy. We should therefore be sceptical of calls by commentators and proposals from politicians to spend billions of dollars to solve Australia’s Asia literacy non-problem.
Benjamin Herscovitch is a Policy Analyst at The Centre for Independent Studies.