Every Australian school will have to teach a major Asian language under education reforms put forward by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Ms Gillard has released an Australia in the Asian Century white paper aimed at growing an "Asia-capable workforce".
Its changes include giving every student from kindergarten to Year 12 the choice of studying Mandarin, Hindi, Japanese or Indonesian.
Students will have to learn about the culture, history and language of Asian countries in schools.
They will also be able to apply for 12,000 new scholarships allowing them to study in Asia.
The changes are part of a plan to make Australian children ready to develop close relationships with Asian business by the time they enter the workforce, Ms Gillard said.
She told Australian media Asia's increase economic power was "unstoppable" and growing at an incomparable rate.
"With the right plan, we can make the new middle-class Asia a market for high-wage, high-skill Australia," she said.
Other white paper proposals include transforming Darwin into a version of Singapore, as a regional hub interacting with Asian businesses.By Hayden Donnell Email Hayden