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A Rationale for Indonesian Language and Studies in Australian Education


In the context of Australia’s place in the world, our engagement with Indonesia and Indonesian language (Bahasa Indonesia) is critical. 

However, the story of Indonesian language learning in Australian schools shows clear patterns of rising and falling. Unfortunately, in the last two decades, the fall has dominated. If current trends continue, Indonesian in Australian schools will be in irreversible crisis – caught between some positive efforts in primary schools and ever-dwindling student numbers in the secondary years. And while we have some new data about the current status of Bahasa Indonesia in our schools, almost nothing is known about what students learn, if anything, about Indonesia through other areas of their education. 

In 2021, Asia Education Foundation (AEF) developed a new contemporary Rationale for Australian Education through support from the Australia-Indonesia Institute at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to provide evidence highlighting the current state of the study of Indonesian in schools and the significant opportunities for engaging with Indonesia and Bahasa Indonesia for young Australians. 

Literature Review

As a complimentary piece of research, the AEF worked with noted academic, Dr Michelle Kohler (Senior Research Fellow, Research Centre for Languages and Cultures, UniSA: Justice and Society) to develop a Literature Review. 


The project consulted with education, business and strategic stakeholders to develop and promote a refreshed and contemporary Rationale for learning Indonesian language and studies in Australian schools that is relevant to education policy makers, school leaders, communities and students. 

As part of this rationale, AEF collected qualitative and quantitative data from relevant parties across Australia and Indonesia.

Scoping and research methods included:

  • Literature Review 
  • Interviews
  • Focus Groups
  • National Survey

Next Steps

AEF warmly welcomes you to share this Rationale with your networks and reach out to AEF should you be interested in further discussion.

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The rationale was developed by Asia Education Foundation at Asialink, The University of Melbourne with support from the Australia Indonesia Institute, Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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