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Media Release

Embargoed until 28 October 2021

National push to renew Indonesian study interest in secondary schools: Asia Education Foundation

28 October: Australia must make a renewed push to attract students to Indonesian language study, leading academics say, to ensure a strong and fruitful future relationship with the country’s largest neighbour and a key trade and diplomatic partner. 

Launching this week, Why Indonesia matters in our schools: A Rationale for Indonesian language and studies in Australian education from Asia Education Foundation (AEF) at Asialink, The University of Melbourne, outlines why Australia needs to lead the charge in bringing school communities on board to pique student interest and boost the national curriculum around Indonesia. 

In addition to the Rationale, a national plan is needed to consolidate data on secondary school Indonesian study in all states, with no nationally representative data currently available. Compiled data from the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) shows only 755 students studied final year Indonesian in 2019.  

Executive Director of AEF Hamish Curry said without Indonesian language skills and intercultural learning, Australians would struggle to navigate their relationship with one of Asia’s key players.  

“Just 755 students graduated high school speaking Indonesian across all of Australia. That’s almost half the number compared to less than a decade ago. This should be of great concern to those working in education policy and leadership,” Mr. Curry said. 

Indonesian has been part of various school curriculum for nearly 70 years, with a rapid decline at the secondary level over the past 15 years.  

“Our ongoing connection and relationship with Indonesia happens across many contexts and industries – but education is a foundational element for building lifelong learning and engagement. We owe it to our youth that they see the Indo-Pacific region with the empathy and potential it deserves.” 

Though a rationale was recommended over a decade ago, it has been made possible now through the support by the Australia-Indonesia Institute at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It has been written for school leaders, educators, and those working in education policy and aims to reset the narrative for why Australian schools should better understand and engage with Indonesia. 

Through an eight-month consultation and design process, AEF conducted and analysed information through a national survey, and a series of interviews and focus groups. 

“The Rationale represents a significant milestone in raising awareness of Indonesia language and studies in our schools,” Mr Curry said. 

“It aims to provide Australian schools with a compelling reason why knowing Indonesia matters and helps us achieve Australia’s national education goals and strengthens intercultural learning for young people in our part of the world.” 

With remarks delivered by Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia, Her Excellency Penny Williams, the Rationale will be launched in an online event on Thursday 28 October. There will be a panel discussion with leading educators, young people with direct experience of connecting Indonesia and Australia, policy makers and language studies experts exploring the key findings and significance of the rationale.  

Register to attend the event here.

Media inquiries

The University of Melbourne
Stephanie Juleff, Media Advisor
sjuleff@unimelb.edu.au
0435 151 096

Asia Education Foundation
Natasha Redden, Education and Communications Coordinator
n.redden@asialink.unimelb.edu.au
0431 452 261

About Asia Education Foundation  

Asia Education Foundation (AEF) provides school leaders, teachers and students with the global perspectives and tools to amplify their intercultural skills and mindsets. AEF delivers informative resources national and international professional learning, innovative programs and rich networks that connect Australian schools with 23 countries across Asia-Pacific. Since 1992, AEF has been an initiative of Asialink at The University of Melbourne and partners with the Australian Government, state and territory education jurisdictions, education professional associations, business, and philanthropic supporters. asiaeducation.edu.au 



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