In recent years the formulation of language education policies has been elevated from the bureaucratic margins and from academic abstraction. Today we can truly consider the activity of language and literacy education policy to be a question of major political importance.
Four main reasons account for this dramatic shift. First, all across the world the vast transfers of population that characterise the contemporary age have produced multilingual and multiethnic societies. Second, the internationalisation of education means that a global market of credentialing is firmly in place challenging national systems of certification and quality. Third, there is now both international pressure and bottom up demands to establish reparative schemes of justice in education to redress oppressive policies of Indigenous assimilation. Finally, the galvanisation of the world into gigantic interdependent trading blocs has made the management of communication a critical issue of trade policy. Language policies therefore respond to demands for social justice, imperatives of economic efficiency and public programs of productive citizenship.
This lecture will critically evaluate how Australia performs in language education for the complex demands of an internationally engaged, multicultural trading economy, enmeshed in systems which complicate the capacity of governments and education systems to manage their own affairs. In recent decades Australia has been a pioneer in its efforts of formulating explicit, coordinated and comprehensive policy to meet the communication needs of a contemporary society at the cross roads between its Indigenous foundations, European settlement and Asian geographic, strategic and economic location, but today lags badly behind the innovative commitments that we witness in other parts of the world.
Presented by Professor Joseph Lo Bianco, AM
Joseph Lo Bianco AM, is Professor of Language and Literacy Education in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, at the University of Melbourne, and a past president of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He specialises in language policy studies, bilingualism and intercultural education and research and action on peace and conflict in multi-ethnic settings. He was author of the 1987 National Policy on Languages, recognised worldwide as the first multilingual policy in an English speaking society. He has been an invited consultant on solving language problems in education and in wider society in 25 countries since 1990 and led major language education writing teams and research for major international organisations in Europe and Asia, such as LUCIDE, a 12 country municipal level study of multilingualism for the European Commission. Since 2012 he has directed a multi-country project on language policy and social cohesion in conflict affected settings in SE Asia for UNICEF and conducted large scale policy workshops for high level policy officials across Asia, under the auspices of UNESCO. He has an extensive list of publications with a strong recent focus on social cohesion, peace and conflict mitigation in multi-ethnic settings.