Asia Education Foundation

A BRIDGE to Indonesia at prestigious education showcase

The merits of the BRIDGE Project as a vehicle for intercultural understanding was highlighted at a major conference on innovation in education recently.

The presentation formed part of the 2011 Innovation Showcase, organised by the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. It took place on Friday 13 May at the Melbourne Convention Centre.

Lisa Hayman, AEF Senior Manager – Projects, explained the value of connecting Australian schools with schools across Asia in the context of the Australian Curriculum. ‘The general capabilty of intercultural understanding is about making sure students respect and appreciate their own and others’ cultures, enabling them to work and communicate with people from different backgrounds.’

DEECD showcase landscapeThe 50 Victorian educators were treated to an inspiring presentation on the project from a practitioner. Irene Beasley is the sole Indonesian teacher at Leongatha Primary School, located in South Gippsland. The rural school in the heart of Victorian dairy country is partnered with SD Pondok Labu 11, in the bustling ten million-strong metropolis of Jakarta.

She explained that the project was an ideal opportunity to involve the school with Indonesia. ‘We wanted to go beyond the walls of the school, beyond our area, and indeed beyond Australia.’

The two classes connect through Skype, which serves as a rich tool for language learning. ‘It enables the children to have authentic, real-time, face-to-face conversation.’

‘We try to speak Indonesian our end and they speak English,’ she continued.

Irene reflected on the genuine engagement fostered between her students and their counterparts in Jakarta. ‘We've moved from being an isolated school to being part of the wider global community and that's really important for the 21st century.’

The session also incorporated a live link from Leongatha Primary School’s partner in Indonesia (pictured). Teacher Ms Tias spoke of the deep personal connections between both teachers. ‘The students are taking to English so well that the teachers now need to catch up.’

Also presented was this video from Jakarta, embedded from YouTube, of a teleconference between with the Indonesian students and their Australian sister school:

The 2011 Innovation Showcase featured Victoria’s most forward thinking practitioners who will share the innovations making a difference in their settings.