As part of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Thailand, the Australia-Thailand Institute (ATI) will support two new innovative education projects, as announced by the Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard MP during the visit to Australia by the Prime Minister Thailand, Her Excellency Yingluck Shinawatra in May.
The first is the Australia-Thailand BRIDGE project that will create ongoing partnerships between Australian and Thai schools.
As part of the BRIDGE project Australian students from eight participating schools will have regular on-line contact with Thai students in their partner schools. Australian and Thai teachers will undertake professional learning focused on intercultural understanding, and the use of social media and technology to support school partnerships.
Managed by the Asia Education Foundation, the Australia-Asia BRIDGE program (Building Relationships Through Intercultural Dialogue and Growing Engagement) operates with Indonesia, Korea and China. It was shortlisted for the BMW-UN Alliance of Civilisations Intercultural Awards in 2011.
"The extension of the BRIDGE program to Thailand provides a practical and engaging way for Australian schools to increase the Asian literacy of Australian children through building personal connections," said ATI Chairman, Mr Mike Courtnall.
The ATI will also support a program to encourage more Australian university students to spend time studying in Thailand.
The 60th Anniversary Discover Thailand scholarships will provide ten top-up grants valued at $2,500 each for Australian university students to study in Thailand under existing exchange of credit arrangements between Australian and Thai universities.
"There are thousands of Thai students who study in Australia each year and this contributes to the very strong people-to-people links between our two countries. We think it's equally important for more young Australians to experience Thailand in more depth, and to contribute to building the skills of young Australians to operate confidently in South-East Asia" said Mr Courtnall.
The Australia-Thailand Institute (ATI) was established by the Australian Government in 2005 to promote bilateral relations with Thailand and expand institutional and people-to-people links. Further information on the ATI is available at www.dfat.gov.au/ati.