Building bridges with Bali

A unique cultural partnership is taking teaching and learning beyond the classroom, helping to break down racial stereotypes and build lifelong friendships with our neighbour, Indonesia.

The school partnership at Illawarra Sports High School provided school staff and students with the opportunity to engage with peers in Indonesia and learn about the history, culture, society and language.

The partnership "is a groundbreaking intercultural understanding project aimed at building a permanent bridge between our cultures," said teacher, Jennifer Jurman-Hilton.

As part of the program, the school recently hosted two Indonesian teachers from its partner school, MT Islam Jamsaren in Surakarta, on a cultural exchange.

"Our guest teachers, Pak Suntoro and Bu Fika, participated in activities across all key learning activities at our school during their two week stay. They also played traditional Indonesian games and taught our students songs in their own language, and our hospitality students served them local gastronomic delights," she said.

Australia in the Asian Century White Paper

Ms Jurman-Hilton said the program is timely and relevant given the recent release of the Federal Government's Australia in the Asian Century' White Paper which sets out an ambitious plan to ensure Australia is able to actively participate in the rise of Asian economic power by 2025.

"A really important part of this is ensuring Asian languages are taught in every Australian school," she said.

The paper proposes the teaching of at least one of four priority Asian languages - Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Indonesian and Japanese - in every school across Australia. According to the Board of Studies, currently only six per cent of Australian students study a language and 10 per cent of NSW HSC students sit a language exam.

"It's a very exciting proposal and definitely reflects the changing dynamics in our region. I think school education needs to equip young people to resolve global issues and in particular, break down stereotypes and take advantage of the opportunities that the rise of Asia is offering," said Ms Jurman-Hilton.


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