Headstart to Indonesian gets underway

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Headstart to Indonesian gets underway

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Published on 18 January 2012

The study of Indonesian language will receive a major boost this week as the University of the Sunshine Coast launches an Australian Government supported program for senior high school students and teachers.

Forty Year 11 and 12 students and 20 teachers from 18 different schools in the region will be awarded scholarships to participate in USC’s new Headstart to Indonesian program.

The University will hold a special ceremony on Friday 20 January to present the 60 participants with scholarships that will cover their Indonesian course tuition fees and materials.

The Australian Government’s Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, through the National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program, awarded a $309,851 grant to USC in November 2010 for the development of the Headstart to Indonesian program.

The project aims to stimulate renewed interest and skills in Indonesian language in Queensland and highlight the career benefits that an ability to speak an Asian language can bring.

Headstart to Indonesian students will complete beginner Indonesian courses at USC in much the same way as those participating in USC’s award-winning Headstart program. It will involve both on-campus and online learning.

Successful high school students will receive credit for the two university-level courses, gain guaranteed entry to most USC degrees, and have the study recorded on their Queensland Certificate of Education.

For the teachers, this is a unique professional development program that represents half of a Graduate Certificate in Arts or part of a Graduate Diploma in Arts at USC. Further studies in Indonesian could include travelling to Lombok for an in-country study experience.

Lecturer in Indonesian Dr Phillip Mahnken said Headstart to Indonesian was a perfect collaboration between the Australian Government, the University of the Sunshine Coast and schools on the Sunshine Coast.

“What can be more important in the Asia Pacific Century than to offer the Australian community invaluable communication and cultural skills?” he said.

“These new students, after one year of study, will be able to land on the streets of Indonesia and interact proficiently. Hopefully, many will go on to higher levels of study and also add professional skills to their Indonesian language and culture skills.

“Learning Indonesian also develops global employability skills, and studying a language has been shown to promote brain development.”

Dr Mahnken is currently in Lombok supervising 50 students from six universities attending a joint in-country program operated by USC, Charles Darwin University, University of New England and the University of Tasmania.

He said USC’s existing relationships with schools in Lombok, Papua, West Papua and Sunshine Coast secondary schools would facilitate the development of sister school relationships and online exchanges.

— Terry Walsh

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