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Release: Immediate

Indonesians study secondary education at UI through World Bank program

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A group of Indonesian education lecturers will pair up with University of Iowa faculty and area secondary school teachers this semester as a part of a program to create a new textbook that will benefit students in the Pacific island nation.

The 13 visiting lecturers are studying at the UI College of Education through Dec. 15, thanks to a $170,000 program funded by the World Bank.

The Indonesians, who arrived in June, are researching the way secondary and postsecondary students are taught in the United States to write a textbook that will be used by faculty and students in teacher training programs in their home country.

Syukur Ghazali, who is studying language acquisition and is the leader of the group, says the project will improve education for Indonesians.

"We hope to update the current textbooks with the latest research and ideas for education," Ghazali says.

The project, sponsored by the Office of International Education at the College of Education, is the College's second major program to improve education in Indonesia in the past four years. From 1993 to 1997, the College of Education was one of only three sites in the United States chosen to act as host for education professors and teachers studying ways to improve primary education in Indonesia.

The primary education program was also sponsored by the World Bank.

Paul Retish, director of the Office of International Education, says the primary school project and the new, secondary school project provide many opportunities for educators in different parts of the world to learn from each other. Indonesia, a nation that includes roughly 2,000 islands, faces many issues, particularly in rural education, that affect Iowa and the United States, he says.

"The Indonesians will learn a lot about the educational system of the United States, but we will also learn a lot about educational issues that affect us as well," Retish says. "This is a mutual learning project."

Participants in the new program were chosen by the Indonesian Ministry of Education from the nation's teacher-training programs. They represent post-secondary institutions that specialize in training teachers who work in the equivalent of high schools in Indonesia.

The Indonesians are studying pedagogical issues surrounding several subjects while at the UI, including teaching English as a foreign language, teaching the history of Indonesia, teaching the language of Indonesia, law, accounting, moral education and others.

When the Indonesians return to their native country in December, their findings will be published by the Ministry of Education and distributed to faculty at more than 30 postsecondary education programs in the country.

While at the UI, the Indonesians will work closely with a faculty member in the College of Education who will act as a mentor or advisor on issues of interest to each Indonesian.

They will also work closely with a practicing teacher in the Iowa City Community School District or surrounding districts, observing secondary school classes and studying how American teachers work with students.

Retish says the Indonesian government is interested in broadening approaches to education. Traditionally, education in Indonesia has been heavily focused on content rather than on the way education is delivered.

The new program is designed to give the Indonesians ideas on how both aspects of education are addressed in U.S. schools, Retish says.

"It's not only what you're going to teach, but how you're going to teach," Retish says. "I think that's a new idea in Indonesia now and for future teachers in Indonesia."