Literacy is a key skill for Indonesian students, underpinning countless other knowledge and competency areas. Without a good grasp of literacy and reading in the early grades, many students will not reach their full learning potential. INOVASI, an Australia-Indonesia partnership program, is finding ways to improve literacy (and numeracy) learning outcomes. This includes a key focus on helping teachers to teach better – meaning that students will in turn learn better in the classroom.
From its program experience to date, INOVASI has found that even modest, short-term, professional development provided in teachers’ working groups can make a significant difference. For example, after participating in the Guru BAIK pilot (run in NTB since 2017), teachers felt confident to independently solve learning issues. Out of a score of 100, teachers’ pre-post test scores improved from 35 to 80 for identifying learning difficulties; from 61 to 76 for identifying root causes of learning difficulties; from 10 to 28 for developing learning scenarios; and from 25 to 65 for developing summative and formative assessments. Importantly, test scores for grades 1-3 children improved by about 55% for mathematics, and by about 20% for Bahasa Indonesia. While improvement in developing learning scenarios remains lower, pilot monitoring found that teachers develop learning scenarios that fit with specific basic competencies and address identified difficulties faced by the students. Learning from this experience, a short course style approach is being taken to support teacher development in the area of foundational early grade literacy.
This is currently underway in many INOVASI partner districts, including Bima. To improve teaching skills in early grade literacy, INOVASI local facilitators are mentoring and training teachers in seven key competency areas (or units). This is being run through the current cluster or teacher working group (KKG) system in five sub-districts including Woha, Wawo, Belo, Bolo and Langgudu. Given Bima’s issue with transition from mother tongue (in the case of Bima, Mbojo language) to using Bahasa Indonesia in the classroom, the current literacy pilot will include key transitional strategies for teachers.
Training commenced in early October in sub-districts with 20 target schools, starting with the first of the seven competency areas: basic foundations in literacy. The training was delivered by district facilitators (fasda) who have previously received INOVASI coaching, and are well equipped to deliver cluster level mentoring and training.
As part of early training efforts, a pre-test was also conducted to assess current levels of early grade literacy (grades one to three). In one cluster, Woha sub-district, a pre-test was carried out at Sari Kalampa primary school in Kalampa Village.
Said Ramli, the local facilitator conducting the test, “this activity is carried out as an effort to measure students’ abilities and determine further actions, teachers can also evaluate and improve teaching creativity to improve reading skills of students in the elementary class.”
In Bima, this initial test was carried out with ten students in partner schools. Indicative results show that only 20% of students can read during the specified time. Results were similar for students across grades one to three. These results will be key to tracking and monitoring student progress during the pilot. A post-test activity will be done further down the track.
“The results of our observations as regional facilitators are related to teacher preparation in classroom learning and applying literacy principles in classroom. We prepare notes to be addressed and discussed together at the next stage of the pilot,” explained Ramli.
This early grade literacy pilot in Bima, with a focus on mother tongue transition strategies, will continue into the first half of 2019.