By Kalyanii KL Chew
Currently, half of all Indonesian children of kindergarten age are not enrolled in schools. The vision for our project is to make quality Early Childhood (EC) learning centres available to all Indonesian children through developing a practical EC teacher training system that is effective and duplicable.
More than that, for us as neohumanists, the foremost challenge is to integrate the principles of Neohumanist Education (NHE) and PROUT to make what began as an AMURT/AMURTEL project into a 3-in-1 project (PROUT-NHE-AMURT/AMURTEL).
Following AMURT Indonesia’s intervention in Padang after the West Sumatra earthquake in Sep 2009, AMURT/AMURTEL Indonesia had developed an Early Childhood (EC) teacher training system through trial and error over a three-year period. The encouraging results from that experiment inspired our current 5-year pilot project in Central Java.
The key components of the project are:
1. The Lesson Activity Manual (LAM) for EC teachers;
- Note: The main features of the Lesson Activity Manual (LAM) are:
- – Based on the Indonesian national EC curriculum
- – Separate modules for 3 age-groups (3-4 yrs, 4-5 yrs and 5-6 yrs)
- – Covers all aspects of development – gross and fine motoric, cognitive, aesthetic, socio-emotional, language and self-help skills, as well as religious-moral values;
- – Translates pedagogical targets into concrete, implementable daily lesson activities;
- – Doubles as teacher-training material
2. Ongoing training over 3 years for practicing EC Education (ECE) teachers; and
3. The School Cluster Meeting System to prepare lesson materials for the following week, review the previous week’s lessons, and general sharing amongst cluster teachers.
To ensure long-term sustainability, it is also necessary to work in coordinated cooperation with key stakeholders – parents and the local community, the teachers individually and through strengthened teacher associations, and the government at all possible levels.
Given that the long-term vision is to bring ECE to all kindergarten-aged Indonesian children, we became increasingly aware of the critical importance of grooming a facilitator team made up of Indonesians committed to the long-term struggle of making this vision a reality. The facilitator’s work consists of mentoring teachers in the classroom on a regular basis and facilitating the cluster meeting where the initial priority is to guide the teachers in using the LAM for lesson activities preparation. To develop their capacity in these areas, we include them in preparing and conducting the active-learning teacher-training sessions conducted by Sister Usha, and in developing the LAM itself.
Empowerment is the key principle governing our approach in working with the staff (facilitators and others) and with the teachers – not just through pedagogical and technical personal development skills, but more importantly, through developing leadership qualities that will eventually enable them to bring the program throughout Indonesia’s far-flung provinces that stretch more than 5,000km (3,200 miles) from east to west. Practical training in this comes through participation in developing the program activities in gradually increasing degrees.
This is where we are guided by the essential features of NHE and PROUT. Despite the fact that we are currently working in an environment that is nearly 100% Muslim, and that our Lesson Activity Manual is based on the Indonesian national ECE curriculum, importance is given to good character development, healthy social skills and independent, critical thinking align our work with the universal values embedded in NHE. The cultivation of empowered teachers and facilitators promote healthy and independent activism. Such grassroots level leadership lays the foundation for the decentralized, autonomous structure envisioned in PROUT.
Update on the project as of September 2015
We are in the final stages of recruiting our second batch of schools and teachers, which will take the total to 144 teachers from 51 schools. By end September 2015, we have conducted training on 18 topics covering pedagogical and personal development topics, with another seven sessions planned by year-end. Some of the teacher training sessions conducted recently included Brain Gym (led by Didi Ananda Shubhada), Creative Craft, Student Evaluation, Curriculum Planning, Involving Parents & Community Stakeholders in Supporting Your School, Developmental Indicators in Lesson Activities, Classroom Management and Child Development.
Our team of facilitators is developing into capable assistants in Sister Usha’s training sessions. As we involve them in the process of upgrading our Lesson Activity Manual, they are also developing greater in-depth understanding of the developmental objectives embedded in each lesson activity and better able to guide the teachers in lesson activity preparations at cluster meetings. Most importantly, our participative approach is empowering the facilitator team with the capacity that hopefully will enable them to bring ECE to all kindergarten-aged children throughout Indonesia.