Australian International School in Balikpapan inaugurated
East Kalimantan Governor Awang Faroek Ishak officially inaugurated the Australian International School (AIS) in the Batakan subdistrict of Balikpapan on Wednesday.
The inauguration ceremony featured the signing of a plaque for the school and was attended by Balikpapan Mayor Rizal Effendi, East Kalimantan legislator Ence Widiany and former Indonesian ambassador to Australia Sabam Siagian, who also serves as an advisor to the school’s founding board.
AIS Balikpapan is part of the Australian International School in Indonesia, which also has schools in Jakarta and Bali.
The Australian International School in Indonesia, created to accommodate expatriate family members, is managed by a nonprofit foundation chaired by Penny Robertson with Bruce Ferres as its principal.
Australian Ambassador Greg Moriarty, who was present at the inauguration ceremony, said that the Australian school is expected to become a bilateral bridge to strengthen diplomacy between Australia and Indonesia.
Moriarty said that with the many Australian citizens and families doing business in Balikpapan and other parts of East Kalimantan, the existence of the international school was a very positive development, and would benefit the students of various other nationalities who would attend the school.
“Aside from Australian children, there are also children from other countries like the Philippines, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Mexico, Britain and America,” head of the school’s Balikpapan campus Jackie Voth said.
The official inauguration of the school, which opened in 2007, also gave the chance for Ambassador Moriarty to commemorate ANZAC Day, which fell on April 25. The commemoration is said to be Australia’s most important national occasion and marks the anniversary of the first major military battle fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during World War I.
In East Kalimantan, it marks the takeover of Balikpapan from Japanese occupation by Australian soldiers in 1945.
Balikpapan itself is a thriving community and it has shown substantial growth since the AIS campus opened five years ago.
According to Voth, at least 120 students attend AIS Balikpapan, which uses English as the medium of communication. The students are served by 17 teachers, who mostly come from Australia.
AIS Balikpapan offers learning opportunities that are enhanced by the application of an international approach to education.
The emphasis on internationalism allows the school to embrace the concept of being responsible citizens of the global community.
Moriarty hoped that the Australian International School in Indonesia, including the campus in Balikpapan, would further expand.
According to Penny Robertson, AIS Balikpapan will soon have a new, more representative campus designed to accommodate a larger number of students from elementary, junior to senior high school levels.
— Sukmaraga Sofyan
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