Innovation for Indonesia’s School Children (INOVASI), a partnership program between the Governments of Australia and Indonesia, is collaborating with prominent Islamic association Ma’arif Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) in East Java. Today’s launch event in Surabaya is a celebration of the ongoing partnership to strengthen basic education teaching and learning. A partnership agreement was signed between the two organisations in September 2018. In March 2019, INOVASI signed a formal education pilot proposal with Ma’arif NU, with a plan to implement activities in 30 partner Islamic schools (or madrasah) across East Java – namely in Sumenep, Pasuruan and Sidoarjo districts. This new pilot aims to strengthen early grade literacy skills, including how teachers teach literacy. Through the pilot, Ma’arif NU will work directly with teachers, students, principals and school committees, focusing on ways to improve teachers’ understanding of literacy and early classroom learning, and their skills in classroom management and use of learning media. The pilot will also find ways to build a strong reading culture in target districts.
INOVASI Program Director Mark Heyward spoke of the importance of this new partnership in East Java. “INOVASI aims to find various good practices or ways to improve learning outcomes for Indonesian students. This partnership is a wonderful opportunity for us to improve the quality of Islamic education, for schools under the auspices of Ma’arif NU in East Java.”
Michelle Lowe, Counsellor for Governance and Human Development from the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, was also positive about this new collaboration. “Through its new partnership with the INOVASI program, Ma’arif NU will pilot new ways to improve early grade literacy outcomes in 30 partner schools across Sumenep, Pasuruan and Sidoarjo districts. We see this as an exciting opportunity to support local efforts to improve the quality of Islamic education in East Java, including new approaches to teaching and learning in Ma’arif partner schools.”
Said KH.Z.Arifin Junaidi, Chairman of Ma’arif NU, “Ma’arif is ready to work together with the INOVASI program and through our madrasahs and Ma’arif target schools to strengthen cooperation. We will also do this through Ma’arif networks in provinces and districts across Indonesia.”
Totok Suprayitno, Head of the Ministry of Education and Culture’s Research and Development Agency, spoke more broadly about the importance of education quality in Indonesia. He explained that schools that want to develop should dare to innovate.
“Schools and teachers who want to move forward, they must dare to innovate, dare to think out of the box and dare to change. Ignore inadequate facilities. An important thing is to have the motivation to be better,” said Totok.