Developing a Practical Early Childhood Teacher Training System

that is Rapid, Effective, Empowering and Duplicable (REED) in Indonesia

39page11-01Submitted by Kalyanii KL Chew

REED is a practical early childhood teacher training system that is rapid, effective, empowering and duplicable. It was developed in Indonesia over the course of four years on a trial and error basis from AMURT Indonesia’s humanitarian response following the September 2009 earthquake in West Sumatra, Indonesia. AMURT’s intervention began with the construction of buildings to house existing early childhood learning centers as part of our Children for a Better World project. We quickly realized that in order to produce children for a better world, we first needed teachers for a better world, and thus focused increasingly on teacher training. The teachers at these early childhood centers were mostly completely untrained beyond high school. Over the course of four years, AMURT provided training to up to 200 teachers from 100 early childhood centers, eventually focusing on around 140 teachers from 54 schools. Given the setting of a very conservative, rural Muslim society, the teachers were 100% female and generally aimed to produce docile, God-fearing children who would sit quietly in front of the blackboard (or whiteboard) to learn the 3R’s and never question, always obey their teachers and elders. Over time, this slowly shifted to a more child-centered approach that recognized that children learn best through play and exploration.


Through trial and error, AMURT Indonesia eventually developed an early childhood teacher training system with the objective of enabling these untrained teachers to implement lessons on a daily basis according to the Indonesian national early childhood education (ECE) curriculum. The key elements of the system are the Lesson Activity Manual (LAM) and the Cluster School system.

1. The Lesson Activity Manual (LAM)

The LAM is structured around the key development indicators (gross & fine motor, cognitive, language, socio-emotional, aesthetic, moral-values and life skills) that are generally in line with standards universally accepted around the world. It is organized according to the themes of the Indonesian national ECE curriculum, but can be easily adjusted to suit differing thematic approaches that may be used in other countries. In the upgraded LAM version we are currently developing, these activities are arranged around three separate age groups (3-4 years old, 4-5 years old and 5-6 years old). Each activity is divided into 4 sections:

a. Objectives: Three main objectives per activity – specific activity objectives linked to developmental indicators selected from the Indonesian government’s Standard Early Childhood Developmental Indicators (cognitive, language, gross & fine motoric, socio-emotional and religious-moral values) for the three age groups. Example: coordinate hand and leg movement to dance music, linked to indicator for gross-motor skill “Child able to carry out morning exercise”.

b. Materials: Materials to be used in each activity – includes visuals, flash cards, readers, etc to be prepared by the teachers

c. Methods: Demonstration, experimentation, discussion, question & answer, games (indoor & outdoor), story-telling, music and movement, art and craft, individual task, group task, drama, webbing, observation

d. Instructions: Detailed step-by-step instructions on how to implement these lesson activities are given to meet the needs of untrained teachers.

In the upgraded version of the LAM that we are currently working on, it was decided that each activity would highlight one desirable character trait / value selected from a list of 36 identified by our LAM team. Our 10-member LAM team includes nine Indonesian members with considerable experience in the Indonesian early childhood field, including curriculum developers, trainers and teachers. The project is led by Sister Usha YC Chang who has been running her own kindergarten in Malaysia for more than 20 years.

2. The Cluster School System

The schools participating in AMURT’s program are grouped into clusters of three to six schools according to convenience of location in order to enable the teachers involved to meet once a week. At this weekly meeting, the teachers work together to prepare the materials for the lesson activities to be covered the following week. Time is also given to review the lesson activities covered in the previous week – the challenges that arose, and accompanying solutions. Cluster leaders are groomed through Training of Trainer programs to guide each group in meeting challenges and also to introduce new teaching materials.

AMURT’s ECE Teacher Training System: Flow chart

The above system constitutes the ‘hardware’ portion of an early childhood teacher training system. In addition to the above elements, a well-designed teacher training program should be complemented with a ‘software’ segment to develop the psycho-spiritual aspects of the teacher – such as that addressed in Ananda Marga’s Neohumanist orientation. The development of such a package that can be used around the world with appropriate adjustments as necessary, could be the basis for future joint projects between AMURT/AMURTEL and AMGK/NHE.

We are hopeful that the hardware system described above can be duplicated in less-developed countries (with adjustments as necessary to fit varying local conditions) to quickly produce teachers who can conduct class effectively for the benefit of children who otherwise may not have access to early childhood education.

The LAM we have developed is currently available only in the Indonesian language. The next step would be to translate the LAM into English which can then be made available to the rest of the world.

AMURT Indonesia Team : Didi A. Haripriya, Sister Usha YC Chang, Didi Kiirti, Brother Suman Hartanto, Sister Kalyanii KL Chew


39page12-03(Photos from project implementation in Pariaman, Sumatra, Indonesia 2012-2013)

39page12-02a. Weekly Cluster Meeting Teachers consolidate habit of making daily lesson plans and preparing lesson activity materials. Facilitated by cluster leaders as necessary, teachers run through the following week’s lesson activities and prepare the corresponding teaching materials during the weekly cluster meeting.

39page13-01b. Classroom implementation of LAM activity
The lesson activities are geared to promote the 5 aspects of development – fine and gross motor skills, language, cognitive, socio-emotional skills, religious-moral values, as well as concentration & patience.
Fine and gross motor skills form a big part of the skills to be developed in ECD-age children. Activities combine language, cognitive & aesthetic aspects of development.Gardening, scooping out seeds from a papaya, making their own vest – all are fun activities to develop ECD children in cognitive, motor, language, aesthetic and life skills.

39page13-02c. Significantly improved classroom management – significantly reduced disruption in class
With the children fully and happily engaged in fun lesson activities, monitoring data show that disciplinary problems and disruptive behaviour are greatly reduced compared to the pre-LAM days.

2. TEACHER TRAINING through the Training-of-Trainer(ToT) & Cluster System Program

Cluster leaders do the ground-level training and provide continuous practical training. The process begins with a training workshop conducted by the Trainer (either our Education Consultant Ms. Chang Yuen Ching or some other external trainer) for the ToT teachers who are also the cluster leaders. They then transfer their newly-learnt skills to their cluster member teachers during the weekly cluster meeting. The regular teachers then apply what they have learnt in the classroom with their children. This process is repeated as necessary, at both the level of Trainer-to-ToT and/or ToT-to-Teacher.

a. ABCs
39page13-05Education Consultant / Trainer Ms. Chang Yuen Ching introduces to the ToT teachers-cum-cluster leaders novel and fun ways to teach ABC. The ToT teachers then pass whatever they have learnt to their cluster members who in turn apply their new skills with their young students.

39page13-08b. 123 / Math Games
Education Consultant / Trainer Ms. Chang Yuen Ching introduces to the ToT teachers new ways to teach Numbers through games. Above Centre & Right: The ToT teachers-cum-Cluster Leaders then transfer what they have just learnt to their cluster members. The teachers then quickly learn to put their new skills to work with their young charges in school.

39page13-07c. Webbing
Education Consultant/Trainer Ms. Chang Yuen Ching shares the concept of Webbing with the ToT teachers- cum-cluster leaders as a technique to draw participation from students when introducing a new lesson topic. After learning Webbing from their cluster leaders, the teachers are ready to apply this new tool with the children (bottom centre right & right).