Kiwi teachers to make
Indonesia connections

Six New Zealand teachers will learn about Indonesia and Islam up close and personal on a two-way exchange starting next week.

Teachers from Otago Girls’ High School, Hamilton Girls’ High School, and Onerahi Primary School in Northland will travel to Jakarta to connect with their Indonesian counterparts at Al Azhar Schools from April 11 to 18. Al Azhar has some 50,000 students across the country, and Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, with close to 90 percent of its 264 million people followers of Islam.

The teachers will stay at the homes of their Indonesian partner teachers and visit their classrooms to get a taste of Indonesian education, life, and culture. On their return, the group will maintain ongoing relationships by making the most of digital technologies to connect their classrooms.

The exchange is a part of the Global Schools Partnership Project, aimed at building connections between students in Asia and New Zealand. It’s a collaboration between Asia New Zealand Foundation Te Whītau Tūhono and the Southeast Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence (SEA CAPE).

Otago Girls’ High School teacher Nicola Chapman says New Zealanders are now more aware than ever that the world needs understanding and respect for one another’s cultures.

“I am especially looking forward to visiting an Islamic school, as I teach so many Muslim girls and have enjoyed this very much, but feel I need to know a lot more. I also teach many Asian students but have never been to an Asian country.

“I think getting to know people on a more personal basis will be hugely beneficial to deepening my cultural awareness and sensitivity. I hope that the connections our students can make will do the same.”

A New Zealand teachers and their Indonesian counterpart talking at a table with colleagues

The Foundation has been taking groups of teachers to Indonesia since 2014

Kim Te’o, teacher at Onerahi Primary School, was also excited to be a part of the initiative.

“[I’m keen] to build that sense of global citizenship and expose the children of our school and town to ways of learning the cultures and languages of other people.”

The teachers are being paired with Indonesian counterparts, who visit New Zealand to learn about our culture and education in June.

SEA CAPE Director Professor Siah Hwee Ang said the project is about building students’ global competence, particularly knowledge of, and connections with, our neighbouring ASEAN countries.

“The ability to connect across cultures, to understand issues from a global perspective or different perspectives, is vital skills for young people in today’s world.” 

Asia New Zealand Foundation Education Director Sean O’Connor said he’s excited to see what will come of giving the teachers and students a chance to build strong relationships with their Indonesian counterparts.

“Building strong links, which they’ll then keep up using online platforms, will mean students are able to start building their confidence to engage with Asia.

“New Zealand’s future is firmly tied with the region, so it’s a good opportunity for students to start building their understanding of other cultures so they’re better equipped for it.” 

About the Southeast Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence

The Southeast Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPE) was established by the New Zealand government to enhance engagement with the ten ASEAN member countries and Timor-Leste. It works with New Zealand exporters, secondary and tertiary students, government agencies and others to improve understanding of these countries and build knowledge of their economies, languages, cultures and business protocols.