Claire Robertson, Australia-Indonesia BRIDGE School Partnerships Program participant, Asia Education Foundation
I recently travelled to Indonesia as part of the Australia-Indonesia BRIDGE School Partnership Program. On landing in Indonesia with my teaching colleague, Ashley, we armed ourselves with an ‘embrace, explore and learn’ mind-set.
Our visit started at MIN Punia 1 Mataram, Lombok. Min Punia is a school small in physical size but not in energy. There are 500 students and not enough classrooms to house them, a very small outdoor area, as well as limited resources and facilities. The staff however have no limits on warmth, good humour and passion for teaching. The students clearly enjoy their school life. Each member of the school community makes the best of what might be considered a less than ideal situation. Indeed, it was easy to see how grateful we need to be for the spacious grounds and amazing facilities we have at our own school, Lilydale West Primary.
Arriving during exam week provided plenty of opportunities to take on the saying about “best laid plans”. Having prepared a comprehensive array of lesson plans to teach during our stay we had to explore how to timetable ourselves into the busy exam schedule. We taught impromptu lessons, made the most of moment by moment teaching opportunities and one day we taught two classes together – 80 students in one hot classroom! We sang, laughed, asked questions and at the end of each day would celebrate the fact that we had taken a lesson plan, shaken it up, revamped it with the help of our BRIDGE partners, and delivered it in a way that was educational, all while still smiling!
We were shown exceptional hospitality by the staff at Min Punia and enjoyed many cultural and eating adventures, including visits to Gili Nanggu for snorkelling, Narmada, Senggigi beach and our Principal, Pak Makzumi, even took us to his house for dinner. We ate lupis, rujak, sate, pelicing, ikan bakar, ayam taliwang and so much more courtesy of our incredible hosts.
After our school visit, I made my way to Jakarta to attend a five-day program with the Asia Education Foundation. I took with me all that I know about Indonesia and returned with altered perceptions and deeper understandings. I visited two other primary schools, a combination school and a Catholic school. This experience helped to broaden my perspective on schooling in Indonesia and see different approaches to the delivery of the National Curriculum. At Min Punia, the curriculum requirements are interwoven with the Islamic curriculum, with students learning English from Year 3. At SD Menteng, a multi-faith school in Jakarta, students learn English from Year 1.
Experiencing Jakarta’s culture was such a pleasure. I enjoyed learning about the rich history of the city, as well as the nation of Indonesia as a whole. What struck me is the Indonesian people’s pride in their nation; celebration of victory over adversity, and such an ambitious future vision for their diverse country and population.
We visited the Australian Embassy where I learnt more about the ongoing partnership between Australia and Indonesia with a particular focus on education. The Head of Curriculum Division of DKI Jakarta, Department of Education, gave a highly informative talk highlighting aspects of the National Curriculum - introduced in 2013 - which is student centred with an emphasis on building student character and values. The hopes and aspirations of the Ministry of Education in Indonesia are not dissimilar to those of the Department of Education in Victoria, Australia. Also, the struggles they face in enabling and entrusting teaching staff to deliver this curriculum in an effective way, are really the same struggles faced by our schools.
Through our BRIDGE partnership both of our schools have benefited from deeper understandings and made significant progress toward improved teaching practice with regards to Intercultural and Global Education.
It was a tremendous privilege to take part in BRIDGE. What we gained from this experience has positively influenced our teaching about Indonesia, its people, history, culture and language. In turn, our students' learning is reflecting deeper understanding and greater passion for all things Indonesian.
Applications for the 2018 ASEAN and Indonesia BRIDGE School Partnerships Program are closing 30 October 2017.
Asia Education Foundation, Australia-Indonesia BRIDGE School Partnerships Program participant, Ms Claire Robertson, is a Bahasa Indonesian teacher and leader of the Global Education team at Lilydale West Primary School.
If you would like to submit an education blog to the Asia Education Foundation, please contact Natasha Redden on firstname.lastname@example.org or call (03) 8344 3569.