She used her enthusiasm to share knowledge with her fellow teachers after returning to her madrasah. As the vice principal for curriculum of the madrasah, Siti collaborated with the principal to create various literacy programs to make their madrasah better. “I aspire for my students to have a literate spirit through the literacy program developed by the madrasah,” she said.

The literacy program developed at the madrasah includes: implementing reading hours and a reading culture in each class; setting up the library to be better and more comfortable so that it will attract students to come to the library; encouraging students to make literacy products; and embracing all parties, including parents, so that a culture of reading can be fostered, both at the madrasah and at home. 

Due to their limited collection of library books, Siti has collaborated with district libraries to borrow and use books on a regular basis.

The Jember Regency Office of the Ministry of Religious Affairs appears to have taken note of this. MI Muhammadiyah 1 Watukebo was asked to represent Jember regency in the East Java-level Madrasah Management Innovation Competition in November 2019. MI Muhammadiyah 1 Watukebo won third place in the literate madrasah category. This was a proud moment for Siti, especially since her madrasah is one of the remote madrasahs that initially was not favored to win.

“I am very proud of the cooperation among the teachers, leaders, and parties who have consistently supported the development of madrasahs, such as through the literacy program,” said Siti.

Siti’s enthusiasm hasn’t waned. She continues to put her efforts into producing literate santris (students of Islamic boarding schools) by encouraging the students’ guardians to support their children’s enthusiasm for reading. This effort has been quite successful; some of her students have developed a passion to write and have even published books—one student’s guardian has even built a mini library in their home due to their children’s and the local residents’ increased interest in books.

In commemoration of Santri Day, Siti hopes that the spirit to build literate santris will continue. A teacher for 18 years, Siti stated, “Even though there is currently a pandemic, the teachers and I at MI Muhammadiyah 1 Watukebo are striving to encourage students who are now studying at home to keep on reading books.”

Siti is currently preparing a book that contains a collection of good literacy practices from various experiences in cultivating interest in reading at her madrasah. The book entitled “Literacy Models of a Champion” (“Model-model Literasi Sang Juara”), will be printed and reproduced as documentation of the literacy movement at Siti’s madrasah.