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UC partnership bridges continents to help transform learning in Indonesia

6 June 2024: The University of Canberra has officially launched an international collaboration with the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Indonesia (MORA) and The World Bank Indonesia, with the aim of improving the quality and accessibility of education across the country.

In Indonesia, educational institutions are known as madrasahs, and they cover all age groups, from early childhood to higher education. The madrasah education system is overseen by MORA. With over 86,000 madrasahs throughout the country, this system supports more than 10 million students and engages over 878,000 teachers.

The University of Canberra’s Faculty of Education has created a tailor-made program to strengthen education in Indonesia, through enhanced assessment systems, improved teacher competencies, and inclusive education promotion.

Professor Lucy Johnston, Interim Vice-Chancellor at the University, stated that the collaboration represents an exciting, shared vision among the three institutions.

“It is with immense pride and anticipation that we launch this program, which promises to forge new pathways in education leadership and reform,” Professor Johnston said.

“Our shared vision extends beyond institutional learning; it is a holistic approach that integrates modern educational practices with the revered traditions of madrasah education.

“We are dedicated to creating an environment that respects cultural heritage while embracing global educational standards, to prepare students not only for local but also for global challenges.”

Key initiatives of the collaboration include nationwide assessments, census-based evaluations, continuous professional development for educators, and the establishment of digital madrasahs.

“This program involves a holistic approach that respects cultural heritage while embracing the diversity and inclusiveness necessary for global engagement. Through this initiative, we foster an environment where Australian and Indonesian educational communities can engage in meaningful cross-cultural dialogue, enhancing our mutual understanding and cooperation,” Professor Johnston said.

“Through shared learning experiences, we enrich each other’s educational practices and work towards more inclusive and diverse learning environments.”

The executive leadership training program is central to the success of the collaboration. Held in May and June, it saw key leaders in the system attending the University for an immersive professional learning experience.

Group of people standing on staircase

The 48 participants included MORA and Indonesian government officials, madrasah educators and administrators, educational training experts, policymakers, and education research academics.

The leadership training program included enrichment workshops, centred around topics including Education Planning and Budgeting, Special Education Services, Technology in Education and much more.

Participants also had the opportunity to visit local schools to understand the delivery of education in an Australian context, including St Francis Xavier College in the ACT.

During the second University visit in June, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed to solidify the partnership.

Professor Ting Wang, Acting Executive Dean of the Faculty of Education, said that as a renowned sector leader in teacher education, the University is well-placed to conduct the leadership training initiative.

“We’re uniquely poised to provide a rich contribution to this collaboration, leveraging our extensive expertise in teacher education, educational leadership, and international educational reform,” Professor Wang said.

Man and woman sign official documents

Associate Professor Sitti Patahuddin, the Director of Indonesian Partnership at the Faculty of Education, said “We are honoured to host key figures from madrasah educational institutions across all 34 provinces of Indonesia, from Papua in the east to Aceh in the west.

"This leadership training represents a convergence of minds united by their dedication to advancing education and policy development. It is designed to strengthen the ties between academia and governmental policy.”

Professor Johnston said the initial visits laid a strong foundation for future collaboration.

“The skills, knowledge, and new perspectives gained through this program will empower educators and leaders to implement changes that will ripple across the educational landscape of Indonesia, benefiting generations of students, teachers, and communities,” Professor Johnston said.

“The University of Canberra’s commitment to excellence is unwavering. Together with the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Indonesia, we will shape the future of education for the better.”

The program builds on an already strong relationship between the University of Canberra and stakeholders within the Indonesian education system. The University currently hosts 25 PhD students on MORA scholarships, and has previously delivered pivotal professional development and capacity building for women as mathematics educators and team leaders in disadvantaged areas.

The visit was attended by several distinguished guests including Dr. M. Sidik Sisdiyanto, M.Pd, Director of Curriculum, Institutional Facilities, and Student Affairs for Madrasah; Amich Alhumami, Ph.D, Deputy of Human, Community, and Cultural Development at the Ministry of National Development Planning/Bappenas, Republic of Indonesia; and Lintang Paramitasari Parnohadiningrat Wibawa, PhD, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Indonesian Embassy in Australia.

Additional attendees included Dr. Arif Rahman, Head of the Project Management Unit of Madrasah Education Quality Reform; Noviandri Nurlaili Khairina, representative of the World Bank Indonesia; Laila Yudiati from DFAT Jakarta; and Abdul Munir, PhD, an INOVASI consultant.