Media Release

13 March 2009

Australian and Indonesian teachers build BRIDGE of learning and friendship

One hundred and eighty teachers from Australia and Indonesia will swap schools as part of a new education initiative to build partnerships between the two countries.

Today, 30 Indonesian teachers will be welcomed to Australia at the official launch of the ground-breaking BRIDGE (Building Relationships through Intercultural Dialogue and Growing Engagement) project which links teachers through their schools and communities.

This project, announced by Foreign Minister Stephen Smith in Indonesia in August last year, is an initiative of the Australia-Indonesia Institute (AII) and is funded by the Myer Foundation and the Australian Government through AusAID. It is being managed by the Asian Education Foundation at the University of Melbourne.

During the three year project, 180 teachers and 80 schools will be involved including up to ten Indonesian schools from the Australian Government’s $355 million Basic Education Program, which is building 2000 schools and basic education services in Indonesia.

The Indonesian teachers will spend several weeks in Australian classrooms and will jointly develop curricula with their Australian counterparts in a mix of metropolitan, regional and rural schools across all states and territories.

The project will give a major boost to Indonesian language study in Australia and to the study of English in Indonesia. This will go some way towards the Government’s

goal of having at least 12 per cent of students exit Year 12 with fluency in one of the target Asian languages by 2020.

The BRIDGE project will help create strong and lasting linkages between teachers, schools and communities which will continue well beyond the three year life of the project, and better equip us to live and work with some of our closest neighbours.

Strengthening such people-to-people links was one of the goals of the recent highly successful Conference, Australia and Indonesia: Partners in a New Era, held in Sydney in February.

Through the interchange of teachers and the provision of IT training and computer hardware these sorts of linkages will better serve our children to overcome what Indonesia's President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has described as the "tyranny of stereotypes" and make full use of the opportunities in each others' countries.

Media Enquiries: DFAT Media Liaison - 02 6261 1555