The Australia-ASEAN Council has unveiled a new international partnerships program for Australian schools.
BRIDGE, or Building Relationships through Intercultural Dialogue and Growing Engagement, connects Australian schools with similar schools across South-East Asia. The program builds on a successful partnership program operating with Indonesia since 2008.
Australia-ASEAN Council Chair, Ms Christine Holgate, said BRIDGE will help strengthen Australia’s links with South-East Asia and promote increased awareness of the region’s diverse cultures.
“The new BRIDGE schools partnerships program will be an important element of Australia-ASEAN engagement at community level,” Ms Holgate said.
“Exposure to each other’s cultures at a young age will help cultivate genuine interest and lasting interaction between Australia and South-East Asia. By using digital platforms, BRIDGE enables classrooms thousands of kilometres apart to interact as if they were in the same room.”
In its first year, BRIDGE will partner five schools in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam with 15 schools in Australia, expanding to include Singapore, the Philippines and Brunei in 2017, and Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar in 2018. By the end of 2018, more than 150 schools are expected to have completed the program.
Participating South-East Asian teachers are currently undertaking 12 days of training in Australia, with partnering Australian teachers to head to South-East Asia for in-country training later this year.
The Australia-ASEAN Council was launched in September 2015. Further information on the Australia-ASEAN Council can be found at www.dfat.gov.au/aac