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Source: Malaspina University College

Malaspina collaborates on development of early childhood education for Indonesia

October 18, 2006

Educators half-a-world
away are helping enhance learning for young Indonesian children, thanks to a
collaborative project between Malaspina University-College in Nanaimo and
Widya Mandala Catholic University in Surabaya, Indonesia.

In October, educators from Indonesia visited Malaspina as part of an ongoing
project to develop a new Early Childhood Education (ECE) curriculum for
Indonesian teachers and child care workers.

"We learn the Canadian style of early childhood education. We can see the
good points of the practices we have discovered in many centres we have
visited, " said Susana Teopilus, who heads the English department at Widya

Teopilus and her colleagues are working with faculty at Malaspina to develop
curriculum that blends western ideas with the traditional needs of
Indonesian families.

Malaspina faculty working on the project include Beverly Revin, chair of
Malaspina’s Early Childhood Education department, colleagues Linda McDonell,
Nancy McInnes and Lorna McCrae, and Varley Weisman, from Child and Youth
Care. Spearheading administration of the project is Sheila Swanson, Director
of International Education.

Their counterparts are Widya Mandala faculty members Teopilus, Agnes Maria
Sumargi from the Psychology department, and Maria Goretti Retno Palupi, from
Teacher Training and Education.

One of the new concepts being integrated into Indonesian Early Childhood
Education is the importance of play in learning. Unlike Canadian classrooms,
where play is part of learning and children are encouraged to share their
ideas, education in Indonesia is more formal.

"The learning in Indonesian programs is more highly structured, " said
McDonell. "In our programs, learning is advanced through play. "

Despite the differences, the collaboration revealed that educators in both
countries share similar values. They want good training for pre-school
educators, and education which gives children the best start in life.

"With proper early childhood education we ensure children grow more
optimally. We have positive impacts later in life, " Teopilus said.

The Indonesians noted Western children appear more independent than
Indonesian children, perhaps because North American culture encourages
independence and Indonesian culture values interdependence.

Those involved in the project expect the impact of the new curriculum will
spread beyond the school system.

"Those who join the course will have more knowledge and spread that
knowledge to others, so they can promote the development of the child, "
Palupi said.

Sumargi anticipates the newly-trained teachers will spread their
understanding of how children learn. In addition, since many early childhood
teachers are women, they will also be parents.

At present, there is no standardized training and certification for
instructors in pre-school and daycare centres. This initiative is expected
to help establish standardized training and certification for early
childhood educators throughout Indonesia.

"We are collaborating with the regional Ministry of Education, " Teopilus
said. "We are having advisory meetings together. "

The partnership between Widya Mandala and Malaspina began in 2000. In 2001,
Widya Mandala’s Vice-Rector Veronica Diptoadi and Malaspina’s Linda McDonell
and Lynn Traynor began developing the curriculum.

The group managed a few exchange visits between 2000 and 2004, but was
hampered by budget. In 2005, the project received a Canadian International
Development Agency grant, which allowed for a formal launch in April 2005,
exchange visits, and appointment of advisory committees in both Indonesia
and Canada.

Since then, the Indonesian faculty have come to Canada twice, for seven
weeks in the fall of 2005 and for three weeks this fall. Malaspina faculty
and students last visited Indonesia in May 2006.

Courses based on the new curriculum are expected to begin at Widya Mandala
in 2010.


For more information contact: Toni O'Keeffe, Director of Communications &
Public Relations. Phone (250) 740-6341; FAX (250) 740-6474; E-mail



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