LCA International Mission partnership with Indonesian Lutheran schools

By Dr Neville Highett

In 2004 Pastor Wayne Zweck (Secretary of LCA and Mission Director) invited Dr Adrienne Jericho (Executive Director, Lutheran Education Australia (LEA)) to accompany him to Indonesia to explore the possibilities of working with Lutheran schools across the 13 Lutheran Synods in Indonesia. The LCA has a history of supporting schools and has provided buildings and […]

In 2004 Pastor Wayne Zweck (Secretary of LCA and Mission Director) invited Dr Adrienne Jericho (Executive Director, Lutheran Education Australia (LEA)) to accompany him to Indonesia to explore the possibilities of working with Lutheran schools across the 13 Lutheran Synods in Indonesia.

The LCA has a history of supporting schools and has provided buildings and other facilities. Many individual congregations and individual families have provided computers, sewing machines and other items of equipment, predominately to the Batak communities in Northern Sumatra.

Dr Jericho realised that if computers had a fault, or needed updating, the local schools did not have the capacity to undertake these tasks. Similarly, the demand for educational facilities was so great that LCA International Mission could not provide what was necessary. It was readily apparent that the focus should be on capacity building of the education committees of each church and building the capacity of principals in spiritual and school leadership.

With the help of the Indonesian National Committee of the Lutheran World Federation (KN LWF), strategic planning workshops were held for education committees and school leaders. Good plans were produced, but the required actions did not eventuate. Hence, it was decided that a suitably qualified national person was required to lead the work. Dr Ridwin Purba was appointed in 2011 as Education Secretary for KN LWF funded by LCA International Mission. Paul Weinert, as LEA Assistant Director, worked with Ridwin until Paul moved to Victoria as Director of Lutheran Education Vic/Tas/NSW. Since then, I have had the pleasure of working with our Lutheran colleagues in Indonesia.

A process of School Improvement Planning commenced in 2011. Participants had traditionally waited for external sources to provide funds or assistance for required improvements. School management was very hierarchal with little teacher input and very little sharing or peer support especially in terms of classroom methodology. The capacity of staff and students in assisting with school improvement was being ignored.

In 2013 a group of principals (members were from all school types) visited a group of high performing Christian Schools in Jakarta with a view to understanding how excellent schools operated in an Indonesian context. Following this visit principals were encouraged to think about how they could access community support and gain the help of business and the Church in improving their schools. In most cases there was very little interaction between a school and local congregation or local community. This was contrary to what they had seen in Jakarta.

It was necessary to introduce concepts of local community responsibility, teachers working in teams to identify and solve problems, to develop an understanding of how collaborating teams can improve teaching methodology and to understand how a team approach could enhance effective ways to spread the gospel message.

Classrooms traditionally are very bare with students in rows, many times three to a desk. Slowly, group work approaches are developing, and student work is being displayed to assist with learning.

Two years later, one of the schools (SD elementary school HKBP in Balige) benefited from a grant from a wealthy Jakarta person who had attended as a student. The school built a two story six classroom block and because of their thinking about school improvement, ensured the rooms were bigger than normal classrooms.

A teacher in this school liaises electronically with a teacher at Good Shepherd Lutheran School, Para Vista and they share ideas and curriculum materials. LCA International Mission will support the Balige teacher to attend the Australian Conference on Lutheran Education in 2017 to be held in Adelaide.

Principals have risen to the challenge of being entrepreneurial in sourcing resources and not waiting for external assistance. Principal, Tetty Sitorus from SMA HKBP Parapat is proud of their bottle classroom. It was constructed because of the need for a prayer room, a room for counselling students, and a space for them to have time out. The school had a concrete slab and is well stocked with appropriate materials.

One vocational school has partnered with Yamaha who have equipped their workshop. The school provides the first service for all new Yamaha scooters sold in Siantar. Another has partnered with a solar panel manufacturer in Bandung that is providing teacher training in solar energy and solar applications.

The benefits of the sister school relationship far exceeds the growth students and their parents experience as participants. The dialogue and sharing between teachers makes a big impact on teacher methodology in the Indonesian school and the mutual growth in understanding each other’s culture is very significant. The centrality of the gospel in the life of Lutheran schools in Indonesia and here is very similar.

Age constraints make it difficult for primary schools to arrange student international visits, however, a sister school relationship that focuses at the teacher level will impact the students in the participating schools. Teacher exchanges or visits to each other’s school as part of a sister school relationship, has high impact on the quality of education within the Indonesian school. The spread of internet access is also expanding rapidly across this region of Indonesia, which assists with ongoing contact between teachers.

There is a very significant population of Lutherans in Indonesia, one of our closest neighbours. With the support available through the Education Secretary, Dr Ridwin Purba, the establishment of a relationship was an easier proposition that with some other locations. However, documented agreements about protocols and mutual responsibilities, longevity of interaction (at least five to seven years) are essential. Lutheran Education Australia has developed a set of guidelines to assist in establishing a sister school relationship and the Assistant to the Bishop – LCA International Mission, Mrs Glenice Hartwich is available to give advice about opportunities with our church partners in Indonesia and other Asian countries.


If your school would like to know more about how they can connect to the mission of God through a LCA International Mission service-learning and ministry partnership, you are invited to phone Erin on (08) 8267 7300 or email erin.kerber@lca.org.au. For more information, go to www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/service-learning/

Read more stories about school partnerships and school service-learning at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/local-partners/schools/

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