During April 2012, 17 primary and secondary school teachers from across Australia participated in the Malaysia Unplugged study program that took in Kuala Lumpur, Malacca and Sarawak.
Participation in the study program provided the opportunity for educators to learn about the ongoing political, educational and economic relationships between Australia and Malaysia through briefings provided by the Australian Embassy.
Briefings from the Malaysian Department of Education and the Malaysia Institute of Education supported participants to develop knowledge and understanding of the Department’s educational objectives and organisational structure which was further supported through a number of visits to schools in urban and rural areas.
“There were many highlights of this amazing experience, but the visits to three schools and the opportunities to see students and teachers was a unique experience. In Melaka I visited a primary school with 477 students, catering for 196 Malay students, 135 Chinese students and 122 Indian students. I was invited to teach a Grade 5 Maths class for an hour and spent several hours discussing issues with the principal and staff. In Kuching, the main city in Sarawak on the island of Borneo we were stunned by the reception that we received from one of the High schools that we visited. We were overwhelmed by the hospitality from our hosts. It was a rock star reception. In Kuching we also spent time looking at the issues involved in saving Orang-utans and the threat from palm oil plantations. We visited a National Park and saw Orang-utans in the semi wild and spent time at the Matag rehabilitation centre. We attended a briefing from one of the palm oil companies to hear the other side of the story.”
Supporting implementation of the Australian Curriculum
“Study programs play an important role in stimulating teachers to address the cross-curriculum priorities. Next week I will be presenting to our entire staff on the benefits of such programs and I will promote Asia across the curriculum. I also see where I can make connections with staff in other learning areas and help them develop ways to address these priorities. For example, looking at Islamic art in Maths or sharing with the Science team the amazing experiments on sustainability I saw in the school in Malacca or encouraging the Art team to try batik making. In particular the school visits and the Sarawak activities were very supportive in this area…Lastly, as a teacher of Chinese history, I felt that I learnt a great deal about the Chinese diaspora by visiting all the Chinatowns”.
“It was a really wonderful and enriching experience…Travelling with a group of educators is a wonderful way to enrich your perspectives through the diversity of interests and skills of participants, from environmental science teachers to history, maths, arts, school leaders and generalists.”
The Asia Education Foundation wishes to thank the Australia-Malaysia Institute for its funding support of this study program to Malaysia.