Philanthropist and former Canberra Grammar School student Terry Snow hopes a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art hub at his former school becomes a "trojan horse" for Asian education in Australia as the nation strengthens its gaze on our regional neighbours.
The $8 million Snow Centre for Education in the Asian Century was formally opened on Thursday.
Mr Snow, who owns Canberra Airport, funded the construction of the first facility of its kind in a non-tertiary setting and hopes the project lights the torch for more serious engagement in Asian-centred studies.
"I think it's most important and that Australia has not seriously engaged with Asia," he said.
"This should be like the trojan horse of Asian education in Australia. Hopefully other private schools and institutions will follow on."
Construction of the building was completed in January before students began flooding its light-filled classrooms a few weeks ago.
Head of School Justin Garricksaid the centre would boost classroom education as well as the professional development of staff with the assistance of the ANU and University of Canberra.
"The centre provides a vehicle for us to teach languages but also to combine geography, economics, IT classes and a whole range of other subjects, so we're bringing together perspectives from across the curriculum," he said.
"One of the issues in transforming the curriculum across the country to engage more with Asia is we, as teachers, teach what we were taught and most of us were taught fairly Euro-centric topics and just haven't had the educational background of our own to teach confidently.
"Really, what schools need is input from universities to make that change."
Mr Garrick said the school community was extremely grateful for Mr Snow's donation for a building that not only fostered flexible and engaged learning but also addressed Australian education's "biggest challenge".
"Australian schools, and Australian education broadly, simply aren't responding adequately to what's going on in Asia," he said.
"The reality is there's an enormous education revolution happening right across Asia. There is just no way that's not going to have a massive impact on our students, on every career they choose to enter.
"We ... ought to be really trying hard to respond to that so that our children have the chance to be part of what really is one of the biggest changes in global history."
Mr Snow said he strongly believed in the school's desire to lead Asian education in Australia.
"I thought the best thing I could do was support the headmaster in developing a program for leadership in the country, to have a school that fully embraced the study of Asian languages and culture," he said.
"Given the Australian National University's prominent role in Australia in Asian studies, this school will hopefully feed directly into the ANU and that this will be a wonderful opportunity for the ANU and for Canberra."