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What Works 5: Schools becoming Asia literate

Schools becoming Asia literate explores the meta-strategies for change that should be considered when working towards developing Asia capable schools, drawing on data from the Becoming Asia Literate: Grants to Schools (BALGS) project. Funded by the Australian Government, the project supported the development of Asia literacy in schools Australia-wide through the provision of direct-to-schools grants for Asian languages and/or studies of Asia. It had 1,997 applications and distributed more than $7.2 million to 335 projects and 521 schools—Government, Catholic and Independent—over three rounds of funding between 2009 and 2012.

Quantitative data collected from BALGS schools point to significant progress in the following areas of developing Asia literacy in Australian schools: teacher capacity; demand and sustainability; combined languages and studies approach; and student learning. For example, the data shows the importance of combined languages and studies approaches to support Asia literacy, with 60 per cent of successful projects using a combined approach, 30 per cent focusing on languages, and 10 per cent on studies of Asia.

Key themes

From a qualitative perspective, BALGS enabled schools to develop Asia literacy practice around four key themes, namely:

  • Building teacher capacity
  • Power of achieving whole-school commitment
  • Building relationships and partnerships (communities of practice)
  • Investing in new pedagogies and curriculum design.


Image: AEF

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