For people who live and work in Jakarta, the day usually starts very early to factor in the busy rush hour and traffic jams (macet) caused by the 10 million vehicles on its roads. Central Jakarta has a population of over 10 million while Greater Jakarta has a population has over 28 million inhabitants making it the largest city in Southeast Asia. On our second day we travelled to the south part of Jakarta to visit an Islamic school, Al-Izhar in Pondok Labu. A journey that should only take 25 minutes according to Google Maps, actually took three times as long, as our bus slowly moved through a sea of motorbikes, overcrowded buses and bajajs, or motorized becaks.
We arrived at Al-Izhar, a private K-12 Islamic school of over 1700 students as the senior school campus was finishing an assembly marking the start of ‘bulan bahasa’ or Indonesian month. Students had raised the Indonesian flag, and were performing poetry, drama and songs to celebrate their national language, bahasa Indonesia. We were warmly welcomed by the Deputy Principal, Ibu Asti and English Teacher Ibu Cylvia Osnasandi and taken on a tour through the school.
Al-Izhar has a sister school relationship with Scotch College through the BRIDGE program and has been involved in teacher visits and in April a small group of Scotch College students had spent a week full immersed at the school. This provided the Into Indonesia delegation with food for thought about possible future sister or partner school relationships between their own school and with other schools in Indonesia and the rich learning experiences that such partnerships can provide the youth of our two countries. Our tour concluded with a discussion with the school’s Director of Studies, Ibu Adinugroho , Vice Directors, Bapak Tato Hendarto and Bapak Otong Jaelani, Head of Library Ibu Titin and Director of International Relations Ibu Itut Priyanto, where the principals shared information about their schools comparing and contrasting the systems across different sectors and nations.
History teacher, Bapak Zein then accompanied the group on our visit to the largest mosque in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, and third largest in the world. The Istiqlal Mosque’s dome is 45 meters in diameter and the entire complex has the capacity to have 120,000 followers to perform prayers simultaneously. On our tour we also saw a large drum called a ‘bedug’ on the world, used along with the adzan to call followers to prayer.
We then moved on to get a closer view of the National Monument or ‘Monas’ which we had been circling on numerous occasions throughout the past two days. Unfortunately we arrived too late to catch the lift to the top (Jakarta’s traffic is to blame).
In the evening we went out to Senayan City and got a glimpse of the lifestyle of the expatriates living in Jakarta. We caught up with BBIP’s much loved film producer Seth Baron and BBIP board member Natrisha who took us to one of their favourite restaurants. It is a pity Ibu Karen was not with us as we also bumped into famous actor Lukman Sardi outside the plaza. Lukman has starred in over forty Indonesian feature films and has been a guest of the Balai Bahasa at the Perth Indonesian Film Festival for the past three years now. It is always a thrill to meet him when he comes to Perth but the chance of meeting him in this city is … well one in ten million.