Bima school principal champions INOVASI language and learning pilot

Bima is one of INOVASI’s six partner districts in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Province. Using a ‘local solution to local problems’ approach, INOVASI implements specific pilot programs in each partner district that seek to address local education issues challenges in the local context. A diverse range of stakeholders are actively involved in the design and implementation of each pilot.  

In the local area surrounding primary school Inpres 1 Kalampa, most families work in farming and agriculture. During the planting season, many families will work outside of the central district area for an extended period, sometimes months at a time, even helping other districts with the planting process. During this time, many families will bring along their school age children to help, simply because there is no body at home to take care of them.

In 2017, INOVASI began pre-pilot activities in Inpres 1 Kalampa primary school, working with local stakeholders to identify key issues and their root causes. The actual language and learning pilot, also called ‘GEMBIRA’, focuses on the transition of mother tongue language to Bahasa Indonesian. To date, there have been issues of low test scores in early grades, due to the lack of Indonesian language used during the teaching and learning process, both inside and outside the classroom. While children speak mother tongue at home and with their peers, the test questions remain in Indonesia’s national language.

The current Language and Learning (or ‘GEMBIRA’) pilot is working to address this. Initially, local educators worried that the pilot strategies would erase the local Mbojo language entirely and were sceptical about what it would mean for classroom learning and teaching.

Fortunately, from the pre-pilot process, several educators emerged as champions of the pilot approach and strategies. They have seen the opportunity for improved student learning outcomes in the local area. One of these stakeholders is Ahmad, the principal of Inpres 1 Kalampa primary school, based in Kalampa Village, Woha sub-district.

“We explained, actually what INOVASI offers is simple, that is how to optimize the process of teaching and learning in the classroom, so that students can better understand what the teachers are teaching. One of the ways is through an effective transition from local language to Indonesian language. Because all the textbooks that exist are using the Indonesian language, as well as the exam questions. How can the students understand the contents of books and tests if they don’t understand Indonesian language?” explained Ahmad.

Nearing the pilot implementation period, various socialisation and training workshops were implemented with key teachers, supervisors, principals and stakeholders. As the pilot program progressed, teachers, principals, and supervisors were made aware of the many teaching and learning methods that can be used to improve the use of Indonesian language in teaching and learning.

One of these is the ‘language bridge’ method, which is a gradual process of language transition using local language as the language of instruction, then gradually inserting Indonesian language in the classroom. After this, Indonesian is used for the whole classroom lesson.

“At first we thought it would be difficult. But after trying, it was easy for teachers and students,” said Ahmad.

Two teachers were selected from Ahmad’s school to be INOVASI local facilitators, trained to disseminate and share these new transition strategies to other educators in Bima.

Ahmad is also positive about the impact of GEMBIRA on teacher mindset. He explained that teacher motivation to identify and test new methods has continued to increase. Furthermore, he has seen firsthand how teachers at his own school have  become far more active and creative in their classroom teaching.

Through INOVASI workshops and support, teachers have undergone a process of testing and trialling different strategies, before moving forward with ‘language bridge’.  During the pre-pilot stage, other strategies included the provision of a reading corner, a wall dictionary to improve vocabulary, and other numeracy based strategies.

“Many changes have occurred in class, in how the teachers teach and the students understand the Indonesian language. The language bridge strategy has made students more enthusiastic, and I hope this can be spread to other schools across Bima and NTB”, said Ahmad.

Bima school principal champions INOVASI language and learning pilot