A Literacy District: INOVASI ready to support Bima

Local ownership and stakeholder engagement are key components of the INOVASI program, an initiative seeking to improve basic education quality and student learning outcomes in literacy and numeracy in four partner provinces across Indonesia. As part of its stakeholder engagement agenda, INOVASI in NTB recently held a District Planning and Steering Committee Meeting at the district level in Bima. Held from 9-10 August, the meeting was facilitated by INOVASI’s provincial team and attended by several government officials from across the district.

As one of the six INOVASI partner districts in NTB, Bima is committed to improving the learning outcomes of students who are ranked lowest in literacy and numeracy not only in Bima, but in NTB as a whole. Key meeting attendees included representatives from the Development Planning Agency of Bima District (Bappeda), the Office of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (Dikbudpora), the Office of the District Library, several village and sub-district representatives, and other key education stakeholders.

From meeting day one, discussion focused largely on INOVASI program planning in Bima, and the root causes of low student learning outcomes – as explored in depth by INOVASI. Formal proceedings were opened by the Head of Basic Education of Bima District Dikbudpora, Hj. Zubaidah, M.Si., who emphasized the importance of a collective contribution by all stakeholders as well as strong cross-sectoral collaboration in order to improve student literacy and numeracy learning outcomes.

“Education is not merely a task of the Government. Other stakeholders must also understand and contribute in improving the quality of education, namely the community, parents and teachers. Everyone has different responsibilities and there should be a synergy between the responsibilities,” said Zubaidah.

Rustinah, S.Pd, who was present on behalf of the Head of the Technical Implementation Unit (UPT) of Donggo Sub-district Dikbudpora, conveyed the importance of support for teachers so as to encourage student learning motivation. According to Rustinah, teachers must be motivated and encouraged to use their creativity when selecting more varied teaching aids during the learning process.

“Many teachers have begun to be creative in finding solutions and creating new methods, but there is still a lack of appreciation from relevant parties, for example from the Dikbudpora. Appreciation can actually foster enthusiasm,” explained Rustinah.

As the meeting continued, participants were divided into three discussion groups to explore and discuss the root cause of education problems and identify solutions and ideas from three points of view, namely from the point of view of students, teachers, and school institutions and environments. The discussion was conducted using a fishbone diagram as one of the methods used to analyze the root causes of existing problems and challenges faced in Bima district.

From the perspective of teachers, the results of the identification activity found that teacher competency was still considered low, including teaching comprehension of learning materials, teaching motivation and creativity. Some of the possible causes were identified as lack of school-level and district-level trainings, ‘mastery’ in relation to teaching and learning materials, teacher selection processes (which can lack strategic direction), disproportionate teacher ratios, and lack of teacher initiatives. In addition, control and monitoring from school supervisors is also considered lacking. The participants acknowledged that school monitoring carried out by supervisors was sometimes not followed up, even though the activity was done in order to tackle problems that existed at school or between teachers.

From the institutional and environmental perspective, the results of the identification exercise found that control and attention to children’s development and education were still lacking. Possible root causes of low student learning outcomes include the ineffective role of the school committee, the ‘unattractive’ classroom atmosphere, limited school facilities, and the geographical location of the school which is often a barrier to attendance. Based on the discussion, solutions proposed to overcome the challenges were to build and maintain good relationships between stakeholders, and a suggestion to re-activate the school committee and its function.

Finally, from the student perspective, root causes to learning issues related to technical problems and limitations in literacy and numeracy. Students are still unable to recognize letters, which is caused by a lack of suitable books and teaching materials that match the learning needs of each student. In addition, student interest in learning and reading is still low. Students in Bima also often have to go to work, and therefore do not go to school, in order to help their parents. The role of parents is therefore crucial, and the provision of reading houses (TBM) can offer a possible solution to this issue.

Based on the results of the problem identification session, a technical meeting was held on meeting day two to discuss solutions that could become programs supported by the District Government and funded in the Regional Revenues and Expenditures Budget (APBD) and School Operational Assistance Funds (BOSDA). Deputy Regent of Bima District, Drs. H Dahlan M Nur, MPd., who was present on the second day of the meeting, expressed his appreciation for the INOVASI program and its ongoing support of Bima education.

“Teachers seem to have begun to change in carrying out the teaching processes. Education can actually improve as long as the teachers are willing to improve. Encouraging teachers to continue to innovate and be creative is really important,” said Dahlan.

He also explained that teaching should not be an activity that teachers feel ‘obligated’ to do, but needs to come from the heart of every teachers, so that they actively seek to understand the needs of each student in their classroom.  The positive impact from INOVASI’s pilot program in Bima is expected to continue, including through knowledge transfer of promising education practices.

“Those who have gained knowledge are expected to transfer their knowledge to others. This is so that the positive changes that have occurred can continue, and even to other teachers, especially within Bima District,” Dahlan said.

At the close of the meeting, stakeholders agreed on the need to launch Bima as a ‘Literacy District’ in the near future. This declaration was agreed together with the Deputy Regent of Bima, and the process will be supported by INOVASI’s Education Policy Specialist in NTB. Follow-up activities will include literacy district concept development, and organised routine hearings with the Deputy Regent of Bima and related stakeholders such as Bima District Bappeda, the Dikbudpora, the Library Service, Village Heads and sub-district heads, as well as other stakeholders in the education sector.

A Literacy District: INOVASI ready to support Bima