International programme
connecting students online

A reciprocal exchange programme that builds online connections between classrooms in New Zealand with those in Asia recently saw six Indonesian teachers homestay with Kiwi teachers, attend their classes and learn about New Zealand pedagogy.

The Indonesian teachers' visit was the second stage of the latest round of the Global Schools Partnership Programme (GSPP). The first stage, which took place earlier in the year, saw the roles reversed - with the Indonesian teachers hosting their New Zealand counterparts.

Nicola Chapman talks about her experience visiting Indonesia as part of the Global Schools Partnership Programme

“While the programme aims to connect classrooms online, we felt that for it to work it was important that the teachers actually got to meet, get to know each other and experience each other’s classrooms,” says the Foundation's education director Sean O’Connor.

“This has enabled participants to build strong personal and professional relationships – and plan sustainable connections and collaborations between their students to grow their cultural knowledge, understanding, and confidence,” O’Connor says.

The six visiting teachers were all from Al Azhar schools, a chain of schools with some 50,000 students across Indonesia. They were partnered with two teachers each from Hamilton Girls High School, Otago Girls High School and Onerahi Primary in Whangarei.

Two Indonesia teachers talking to students sitting at a table

The Indonesian teachers visited schools in Hamilton to experience a range of classroom environments

Nicola Chapman from Otago Girls’ High School says after a bit of initial shyness from the students her partner teacher Nur (Mukhamad Nurochman) quickly won them over and they were soon asking questions about Indonesia and his students there.

“My students were a bit shy, but he connected well with them by showing them some money!” she says.

 “It sounded like a lot in Indonesian, so it amused them to find out how little it was worth in New Zealand!

“Nur's visit certainly got the students intrigued by Indonesia and his students there,” Chapman says. 

With Nicola and Nur having now both visited each other’s schools and attended classes, the next stage is to connect their classes online.

Chapman says she would like to get her students developing their research skills and knowledge of Indonesia by drawing on Nur’s students to learn about their lives and Indonesian culture and society.

“The kinds of activities we will do will be internet-based research, primed by and then also followed by exchanges of emails and messages and perhaps online live conversations.”

She says the programme will open her students’ eyes to another culture and hopefully spark their interest in Asia.

“I think that it will give them a wider perspective of life for their peers in a very different part of the world, from a very different culture, yet with many issues and opportunities that are the same.”

A New Zealand teachers talking to a group of Indonesia students sitting at their desks looking at ipads

In April this year, six New Zealand teachers visited Indonesian schools in the first leg of the exchange

Last year, the programme, which is now in its second year, connected teachers from New Zealand and Singapore.

John MacNaughton from Sunnyhills Primary School in Auckland was partnered with a teacher at Bukit Timah Primary School in Singapore.

He says after a period of trial and error with technologies, including issues thrown up by Singapore’s Ministry of Education firewall, his students and those at Bukit Timah are now collaborating regularly and once or twice a term connect face-to-face, using Zoom video conferencing.

The classes have shared art for exhibition at each other’s schools and sent postcards and poetry for International Friendship Day.

MacNaughton says he wants to continue to build on the connection with Bukit Timah School, expanding it to other Sunnyhills classes, with the ultimate goal of having student exchange trips between the schools established by 2021.

“It has been wonderful to connect with a school from Asia and share this with our students, and for them to be excited to learn and connect to this part of the world,” he says.

The Global Schools Partnership Project is a collaboration between the Asia New Zealand Foundation Te Whītau Tūhono and the Southeast Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence.