Vivien Febrianti is the Principal of SDN Koda Permai Primary School in Utan Subdistrict, Sumbawa District, and also one of the Regional Facilitators (Fasda) of Merdeka Belajar program there. Under her leadership in 2023, SDN Koda Permai was selected as a pioneer school or Sekolah Penggerak. Febrianti is known for persistently pushing transformation and innovation, specifically to strengthen her students’ basic competencies. One of her collaborations with the students’ parents was to provide a library outside of the classroom for easier access to get reading materials. The library contained books for various reading ability levels and was supported by the INOVASI program.
In 2022, upon starting her leadership at the school, Febrianti faced a challenge. Many books for the children were piled inside cardboard boxes since the school was yet to have a representative library.
The then library room was inside the second graders’ classroom, along with the teacher’s room, the principal’s room and other functions. From Febrianti’s observation, the situation made it difficult for students to read freely. In fact, the students who wanted to read sometimes had to wait for the second graders to finish the class or they felt shy because the teachers were there in the same room.
Moreover, the geographical condition of being in a mountainous region with a poor social and economic situation had become a challenge in the learning process.
However, Febrianti then designed solutions to overcome these limitations and make a system for the students to feel comfortable while reading books at school. For Febrianti, these obstacles at school were not challenges to making a change.
Finally, Febrianti suggested making a library outside of the classroom. Given the school’s location in a mountainous area with many large, shady trees, she proposed building the library under a tree. The first step she took was to meet with the school committee officials and the parents’ community to propose the idea of having a library under a shady tree.
The meeting resulted in an agreement to build the library outdoors under a shady tree with the support of a parent working as a welder. With collaboration, they could make a shady outdoor library. Febrianti asked a student’s father who was a carpenter to make comfortable seats for children to read books
There were four bookshelves, red, yellow, green and blue.
“The colours do not indicate the students’ reading level, instead, they are to attract their interest in reading,” said Febrianti.
After the library was established outside of the classroom, the students had easier access to books, and creating a reading habit for 15 minutes before class became more embedded at the school.
According to Febrianti, in learning transformation, especially in the Kurikulum Merdeka program (literally translated as the independent curriculum), students are pushed to be more active than the teacher since the learning is student-centred. After conducting an early assessment, the student’s literacy levels were found to be low, with only fewer students fluent in reading, even those in the sixth grade.
Febrianti then initiated a program called Samaras which means Story-telling Saturday, aiming to increase the students’ basic literacy skills and reinforce their character education. The students would borrow one book every day at the library and they could take it home to read. Febrianti asked the classroom teachers to intensively guide their students according to their literacy levels.
If the students had a low reading level, they would be grouped by the teacher and guided accordingly. Likewise, when the students read books under the tree, a teacher was assigned to guide them.
The teacher’s guidance was helpful since there were numerous reading materials like big books, levelled books, and various storybook titles that the students could choose from. Those books were displayed in the library. These books were supported by the INOVASI program, with a total of 122 books (72 titles) received by SDN Koda Permai.
In implementing the Samaras program, the teachers would ask lower-level students (grades 1-3) to read storybooks, and the books would be read before their friends. To make the reading situation more pleasant, the activity was done in the schoolyard. All students took turns reading. When finished reading, the teacher would give their favourite snacks from the school cafeteria to them as gifts.
The Samaras program had a significant impact on increasing students’ motivation and interest in reading.
“I want literacy to become a culture in schools. Making it a culture is something that should be done every day and continuously.” Febrianti said.
In fact, the Samaras program also played a role in strengthening character education, resulting in increased students’ self-confidence, mutual respect, mutual assistance, and overall improvement in reading ability.
“Before improving the student’s literacy, the teachers’ literacy must be improved first”, she added.
As a Regional Facilitator or Fasda in Sumbawa, Febrianti worked to strengthen the teachers’ capacity in the approach to reading based on the students’ ability levels, known as the Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) method. The training was held weekly at school, and teachers were encouraged to study independently by diligently accessing the Merdeka Belajar Platform (PMM). Even though their school was not a target for the literacy strengthening program, Febrianti conducted independent assessments at the school to ensure progress.
“I have my own mission to continue improving students’ literacy skills, but before that happens, the teachers’ capacity must be improved,” she said.
Teacher training was routinely carried out, and Febrianti saw firsthand how teachers interacted with students during the learning process. After that, the TaRL program was implemented, and during the first semester, the program application was carried out intensively. There was a noticeable change in the student’s reading levels who previously could only recognize letters to becoming fluent in reading.
Febrianti felt that the children’s world was her motivation for this learning transformation process. Since childhood, she consistently aspired to be a teacher because her parents were also teachers. They set an example for her, and she hoped that children could become students with Pancasila characters who received support from not only their parents but also the village government officials and the community.
In the future, children make a transformation and when they lack literacy skills, they could not make changes and transform their surroundings.
“No matter how we shape the student’s character, when we go home and the environment does not support it, it is useless because we will have to start over from scratch,” she added.
To encourage parent participation in the child’s learning process, Febrianti prepared a Ramadan journal for children and parents. She realised that changes could not be achieved in silos, and collaboration with all elements must be carried out for the advancement of the children’s education at school.