The Asia Pacific Curriculum project was launched in April 2017 by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF Canada), a Vancouver-based not-for-profit organization whose mission is to be Canada’s catalyst for engagement with Asia and Asia’s bridge to Canada. We believe strongly that a successful and globally engaged Canada requires a population that is knowledgeable about the world’s largest, and arguably most dynamic, region.
The Asia Pacific Curriculum project provides thoughtful and well-designed teaching materials that introduce youth (grades 5 to 12) to contemporary Asia and modern Asian histories, economies, geographies, politics, and cultures. APF Canada has worked with teachers to ensure our resources meet their needs. Content is adaptable and can be used to teach about Asia itself, or about topical issues such as immigration or climate change, using Asia-focused case studies.
The learning modules provided as part of this project contain a variety of educational tools to introduce each topic and provide ready-to-use content that teachers can tailor to fit their classroom or curricular priorities. Importantly, many of these resources include a carefully researched background reading for teachers, which aims to spotlight the deeper social, political, economic, moral, or environmental significance of a particular topic or historical episode.
Why Educate Young Canadians about Asia?
In the last few decades, the world has seen a large pivot towards Asia. By 2030, Asia will account for 53 per cent of the world's population, half the world's GDP, 64 per cent of the global middle class, and a major source of innovation and creativity in the arts, technology, science, and other areas of human endeavour. If Canada is to successfully engage with Asia and capitalize on the immense opportunity this engagement offers, we need a population that is educated about the region.
Furthermore, Asians represent a rapidly growing proportion of new Canadians, especially young Canadians. Canadians of Asian descent comprise approximately 20 per cent of our population today, and the three major source countries for new immigrants are the Philippines, India, and China - suggesting this percentage will only grow in the coming decades.
Research by APF Canada has found that young Canadians frequently report that they are yet to see themselves represented in all parts of Canadian society, including within traditional and social media, popular culture, and their school curriculum. It is thus important that we work to increase representation in all areas, but we believe that school curriculum is one of the best places to start. This is all the more vital in light of the escalating racism and intolerance experienced by Canadians of Asian descent after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research indicates many young Canadians attributed this at least in part to their peers' lack of understanding of Asia and its diversity.
Canadian education systems are laudable; however, their heavy focus on areas that mattered greatly to Canada's past (Europe and the United States) needs to make space for an expanded focus on Asia - an area of the world that matters greatly to Canada's present and future. Canada's peer countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and the United States all began implementing Asia curriculum programming in their K-12 schools more than 20 years ago. On a global stage, this could put our young people at a disadvantage.
Educating young Canadians about Asia is widely supported from coast to coast, to coast. APF Canada polling indicates that on average, 67 per cent of Canadians in every region would like to see increased emphasis on teaching about Asia.
Principles and Processes
An important dimension of social studies is learning about the changes, tensions, conflicts, and relations in and between countries and societies. Through the Asia Pacific Curriculum project, we aim to give students a foundation of knowledge about these phenomena as they play out in Asia. We do not avoid sensitive topics. When we do focus on such topics, we aim to present them as objectively and neutrally as possible via evidence-based analysis. We encourage students to learn about different and sometimes conflicting perspectives.
In cases in which the sovereignty, administration, or naming of a particular geographic area is under dispute, we take our guidance from the Cartographic Policies established by the National Geographic Society.
In developing these materials, we draw form peer-reviewed academic sources, materials from internationally recognized research organizations, and subject matter experts. Depending on the topic, a subject matter expert could be invited to author a background reading that will help inform teachers about a given topic. In addition, we may invite another subject expert to review a reading for tone and accuracy.
Funding and Support
To date, this project has been financially supported by the unrestricted funds from the proceeds of a Government of Canada endowment to APF Canada. In addition, we gratefully acknowledge the foundational financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Education in funding the five-year pilot that allowed APF Canada to launch this initiative.
If you are interested in contributing to the Asia Pacific Curriculum project to ensure its success over the long term, please contact email@example.com. We welcome all forms of support, from financial contributions and advocacy to network facilitation and more. If you, your organization, or someone you know might be interested in further discussing this opportunity, we would love to hear from you.
About the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada
The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada is a not-for-profit organization focused on Canada's relations with Asia. Our mission is to be Canada's catalyst for engagement with Asia and Asia's bridge to Canada. APF Canada is dedicated to strengthening ties between Canada and Asia with a focus on seven thematic areas: trade and investment, surveys and polling, regional security, digital technologies, domestic networks, sustainable development, and education and Asia competency.
APF Canada is dedicated to developing the Asia competence of Canadians, especially Canadian youth. We are now the country's leading voice for the importance of preparing young Canadians for an increasingly Asia-centred future, both at home and abroad.