Education Partnership Pivot - Indonesia
It takes a village to educate a child. And in some cases, it will take one village in two countries.
To keep pace with today's market, education around the world has crafted 4 key learning skills that students must possess: critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration. In Indonesia, the government has formulated strategies to achieve this 21st-century learning in their regulations and education law. The praxis is the 2006 Curriculum (Education Unit Level Curriculum), Law no. 30 of 2003 concerning the National Education System, and the 2013 Curriculum. The practice is the rise of skills-based schools and technology-based learning.
Building Relationship through Intercultural Dialogue and Growing Engagement (BRIDGE) is an education development program between Australia and Indonesia that aims to support the Indonesian government education goal by supporting teachers in preparing their students to become global digital citizens through their flagship school partnership program. For more than 10 years teachers from both countries have had visited each other schools in a homestay program, exchange pedagogy practices, and collaborated synchronously and asynchronously.
Intercultural understanding is perceived as the main takeout from the program that has boosted the learning process in the classroom.
"The partnership is a bit of a buy-in and context 'element of connection' for primary school students as teachers are able to provide context and excitement to continue their learning by saying 'when you go to Indonesia' on the school visits" -- Australian Teacher
"Students have become more enthusiastic in learning because they can learn directly from and communicate with native speakers. Students are more diligent in learning English" – Indonesian Teacher
Aside from reciprocal visits, digital collaboration was also strongly advocated throughout program implementation. From the immersion workshop to the regular annual workshop, IT skills remain one of the main themes of teacher's capacity-building component. Google, Microsoft Teams, Padlet, Flipgrid, Miro board, and a plethora of other digital platforms are introduced and reintroduced to support teachers in implementing IT-based pedagogy and to maintain collaboration with their school partners teacher.
Although a significant increase in IT skills has been reported post-program intervention, digital literacy remains seconds as program highlight after school visit. Limited infrastructure and teacher's lack of confidence in using ICT are listed as some of the contributing factors but also the old adage that there is no substitute for original experience gained from face-to-face interaction.
Until the pandemic in early 2020 hit the reset button and forced people around the world to make various adjustments, especially in the world of education and school partnership. Educational activities that were previously accustomed to face-to-face learning must adapt to digital learning models and partnership that previously rely on school visits is hindered by travel restriction. Teachers are forced to pivot to google classroom / teams and zoom to conduct their teaching and transnational collaboration. Students in two partnering schools were video conferencing and created a podcast and virtual tour video to share ideas and their learning with students from their school partners.
Struggle as they may, after one year, teachers admitted that they are more at ease in implementing IT-based pedagogy and collaboration. The digital collaboration has also enabled wider engagement that face-to-face has limited thus magnifying the impact and benefit of the partnership program to the wider school community. Whether it is synchronous or asynchronous, communication and collaboration between partnering schools have led to the increase of intercultural understanding that facilitates student's critical thinking and creative skills required for them to become global citizens.
"There is no doubt the school is becoming increasingly diverse. We have had an increased diversification over the past 10 years. With a large number of students from across Asia and Africa. Potentially this has helped normalize the partnership including the connection/exchange. Families are more aware and open to those of different cultures, languages, etc." – BRIDGE teacher
Fahra Amiroeddin is an Indonesian NGOs worker with more than 10 years of experience managing development projects all over Indonesia, mostly in remote areas, in the field of education, child protection, refugee protection and forest fire prevention. Graduated from Atmajaya University in Psychology major and spent a year in Belgium doing a master degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology at KU Leuven, Fahra is currently living in Jakarta and is a cycling enthusiasts