Linking Relief and Rehabilitation to Development Work

By Kalyanii KL Chew

Details of a workshop given at the NHE Global Conference, Salorno, Italy, July 2019

AMURT Indonesia’s Early Childhood Teacher Training Project is a humanitarian project conducted by AMURT-AMURTEL (an NGO engaged in disaster-relief, rehabilitation and development) which combines the spirit of Neohumanist education and Proutist civil society development in an all-round approach to social development.

As a volunteer regional coordinator of AMURT-AMURTEL, I have been involved in relief-rehabilitation-development work since 2005 in Indonesia (Aceh, West Sumatra, Central Java and Sulawesi), Myanmar (intervention after Cyclone Nargis in 2007) and Malaysia (mostly small-scale educational projects). We have moved from disaster-relief to development work, focusing on early childhood teacher training since 2010. From 2013-2018, AMURT Indonesia worked in Muslim-dominant Central Java on a project entitled “Developing an Early Childhood Teacher Training System that is Effective and Duplicable”. In that project, we worked with about 180 early childhood teachers from 46 centers catering to 2,600+ students each year.

Our present project entitled “Collaborating with Government, Community and Parents to Develop Quality Early Childhood Education” runs for 40 months from Jan 2019-Apr 2022 and is sponsored by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) and German children’s charity Kindernothilfe. Also located in Central Java, this project consists of a mentored program where we work closely with 126 educators from 30 early childhood schools in 21 villages catering to 1300+ children. We also work with approximately 1,000 other teachers in 14-20 sub-districts on a non-mentored basis, benefiting about 15,000 children each year. The project aims to support the local government in training teachers to implement the new Indonesian national early childhood curriculum, which is a progressive child-centered curriculum. Our participatory, action-learning training style aims to empower early childhood educators to in turn nurture empowered, happy and caring children of character and resilience who will grow up to contribute towards building a better world. Universal moral and spiritual values, the Child Rights Convention principles and a scientific approach to learning, provide solid building blocks to Neohumanist Education.

As the title of my workshop topic “Linking Relief and Rehabilitation to Development” suggests, my presentation focused on disaster relief work as an entry point into development project work. I also shared important lessons learnt over 14 years of project work, and how partnering local governments in implementing the progressive, child-centered Indonesian national curriculum enabled AMURT Indonesia to scale up the project’s reach. Empowering early childhood teachers (99% women) = developing grassroots community leaders = developing civil society = laying the foundation for sustainable development. In this way, we combine the enlightened values of neohumanist education with the passion of social activism to plant the seeds of all-round social transformation in implementing development work.

(Footnote: Didi A. Haripriya, Usha YC Chang and Kalyanii KL Chew form the core AMURT team in this project.)