By Kerry James (Semester 14/Feb 2002)
Flinders University of South Australia

Both my daughters (one in year 1 and one in year 3) began attending Sekolah Dasar (SD) Percobaan in 2002 without any background in the Indonesian language. Now both are able to communicate with their peers in basic Bahasa Indonesian. They have also attended Javanese language classes but found it difficult. I have not emphasised the learning of Javanese, as we were only there for one year.

Some teachers speak English, which is very helpful for the children if there are any problems. Some of the older children have good English language skills, and also look out for the young ones. A big positive is the sister school arrangement this school has with Roeville Primary School in Melbourne, Victoria. Each year 2 teachers and around 10 students, year 5/6 level, visit Australia and attend Roeville PS for 3 weeks, usually in March. Roeville students visit SD Percobaan in September each year.

There is some sensitivity to western children’s needs and some of the difficulties they may experience, eg homesickness. The teachers who visit Australia also have a better idea of what resources are available in western schools and some of the learning issues that may arise. The principal is very supportive of developing contacts with western schools, having ACICIS students assist in the school and expanding the education process. Some teachers take a more traditional line while others have a bigger picture understanding of education with language learning and the use of computers.

Pak Yono is usually the first contact with the school. He has taken the groups to Australia, developed the relationships between the schools, has a better appreciation of a western child’s needs and is a great asset to the school. He strives to offer better facilities, stimulate other teachers and has a bigger picture of education.

The academic stimulation (strong emphasis on maths) here is not as it is in schools in Australia, but the cultural and language learning is a wonderful compensation. Boredom can be a problem so it is helpful to have some back up. I brought some lessons and resources from Australia, which the girls have used in their classes and for home schooling. We have also accessed some children’s educational websites. Yogya has many internet cafes at cheap rates. If you bring a laptop there are also plenty of educational CDs available you can use at home. I haven’t tried to buy any here but they are available.

My eldest daughter-year 3 (although year 4 in Australia) has attended Islamic class and prayers in the mosque 2 times a week. I think she has benefited from the experience. The social interaction with children has been very positive. We are now developing contacts and outings outside of the school environment with children and parents. This is a good opportunity to build on the language exchange, as many parents want to learn English also.

There are 5 computers in the school but no access for students and limited knowledge of their use by teachers. Science and technology are not areas of great learning in this school as resources are limited. Any resources that can be brought from Australia are greatly appreciated. Not only Australiana, but general education and cross-cultural educational tools are helpful. There is a small canteen where the children can buy sweets, good fairy floss and snacks.

Overall I think my children have benefited enormously from this experience beginning from the becak ride everyday to school. The ice cream seller and the other food vendors at the front gate have also added to the experience.

Application pack for accompanying family