A young learner showing his schoolwork to a teacher
A young learner in the partner school in Jakarta showcasing his schoolwork to one of the visitors from Birmingham. ©

C Muhammad Iqbal

October 2019

Razia Butt, Resilience Adviser, Children and Young People Directorate, Birmingham City Council.

We are delighted to report on an exciting partnership between schools in Birmingham and Jakarta, supported through the Department of Education’s Schools Exchanges scheme. Seven secondary school leaders from Birmingham visited their partner schools in Jakarta for the first time, following introductions earlier in the year when Jakarta school co-ordinators visited Birmingham. Following this, friendships have been forged and pupils have begun writing to each other and collaborating online.

The project is grounded in a strong and co-productive partnership already established between Birmingham City Council Education Department, the University of Birmingham and school representatives. The aim was to establish a reciprocal education programme, broadening the horizons or pupils that would not usually access such an ambitious opportunity.

Indonesia has a great story to share with amazing cultural and religious diversity and a constitution based on tolerance and pluralism. Indonesia has the world’s 4th largest population located across the largest archipelago of 9,000 populated islands and the largest Islamic population globally. Its cultural richness is a fortune in itself that has been part of the identity of Indonesian people, as it also stated in the national slogan, “Bhinekka Tunggal Ika’, which means unity in diversity.

The respective cultural richness is not only limited to the ethnicity diversity but also religious diversity and biodiversity due to Indonesia’s geographical location. It is paramount for Indonesians, particularly young Indonesians, to recognise, respect, and value Indonesia’s diversity, and share its story to others. Open mindedness and tolerance are the elements that glue the community and build its resilience.

Birmingham, the second largest city in the UK with a diverse population of various backgrounds, is the British Council’s main civic partner in establishing international school links between Indonesia and the UK in the theme of ‘diversity’. The programme aims to promote tolerance and international collaboration among young people of different backgrounds. Through linking schools in Indonesia and the UK we are facilitating learning between the two schools communities on how diversity will be beneficial for individuals taking part in this projects as well as extended school communities.

Plans are now underway, thanks to British Council funding, to secure the partnership further by taking up to 70 young people from the UK to Jakarta to meet their friends in person. Our aspiration is to develop truly global partnerships that inspires both school communities to experience and achieve global citizenship.

Paul Smith OBE, Director Indonesia British Council said:

“Our new School2School programme is opening up great opportunities for young people in Birmingham and in Jakarta – at 48 schools in all – to share vivid experience about their lives, their cultures, their enthusiasms, their concerns and their faiths. Indonesia is the 3rd largest democracy in the world and has the world’s largest Muslim population. Birmingham is the UK’s second largest city with some 30% of schoolchildren of the Islamic faith. Working, learning and chatting together is a brilliant way for these young people, and their teachers, to build better international understanding and joint commitment to some of the most important issues of our times”

Teachers and colleagues from Birmingham and Indonesia sit around a table and look like they are having a conversation
Teachers and colleagues from Birmingham and Indonesia exchange cultural knowledge and learning. ©

C Muhammad Iqbal