Is Indonesian in schools seeing creativity or crisis? The data indicates that at present it is more crisis than creativity, but innovation and passion for ensuring Indonesia and Indonesian remain integral in Australian schools will not disappear. Constraints have always been a powerful enabler of creativity, but without a way to amplify the impact of that creativity, it remains localized and fragile.
Without nation-wide policies, funding and collective support, Indonesian could be relegated to a forgotten corner of our education experiences. Such an outcome does not serve our next generations of Australians well. And it would say much of Australia’s lack of commitment to our largest neighbour.
Much of what has been studied and researched about Indonesian in schools has often resulted in a common recommendation – we need a more unique rationale about why Indonesian is an important language to teach and learn. There needs to be a demand for concerted efforts to intervene, much like the International Call to Action on languages published late last year.
In 2014, AEF published a report with a number of interventions for Asian languages like Indonesian in the senior secondary setting which are still as relevant today; see Figure 6 above. For 2021, the Australia-Indonesia Institute has funded an initiative  to develop a contemporary rationale for studies of Indonesia and Indonesian language at a crucial juncture – one where the crisis is pressing. AEF will be working on this to consult as widely as possible to capture a diverse range of experienced, youthful, and passionate voices to articulate a strong and relevant rationale for Australian schools. The rationale for ‘Why Study Indonesian?’ will be launched in October this year.
A rationale that speaks to Australian schools on its own won’t have the impact of national or state policies or funding, but it will be a provocative and reassuring first step in demonstrating to communities in Australia and Indonesia, that Indonesian language and studies is considered an important and essential offering in Australian education. One that must be strengthened nationally and systemically.
The AEF podcast ‘Building BRIDGES’ features some detailed conversation with school leaders about how they have fostered Indonesian language, studies, and networks.