Building phonological awareness to improve students’ literacy skills in Bima

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.  

To improve student literacy skills, it is essential that children practice the art of reading. Together with INOVASI program, Bima district government is encouraging teachers, principals and supervisors to help increase phonological awareness during the learning process. Put simply, this means ensuring that children are learning key words and syllables that make up passages of text. By mastering this, they will be better able to read.

INOVASI’s pilot in Bima 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. Through GEMBIRA, selected local facilitators are trained to apply and share their knowledge and skills with fellow teachers, principals, and supervisors. Local facilitators are trained in the use of various literacy and numeracy modules that have been developed with the local context in mind. The modules are then tested during field testing, and used to guide pilot implementation during the school semester.

In June, INOVASI tested the literacy module focused on phonological awareness at primary school Inpres Kalampa 1, Woha District, inviting a number of teachers, principals, and supervisors to participate. One of the participants from primary school Inpres Kalampa 1, Ahmad, shared his thoughts on the importance of strengthening phonological awareness amongst students.

“Phonological awareness is important to distinguish syllables in words and words in sentences. This is great effort to improve students’ literacy skills,” he explained.

Through the modules, teachers will be guided to help students better recognise the sounds of key letters. Turayah from primary school Kalampa 2 emphasised that helping students build phonological awareness will ultimately improve their ability to recognize and put together the sound of letters in sentences and passages of text.

“This module is important to help students to be more fluent in making sounds and writing words. Students are expected to understand the spoken word more easily,” she said.

The GEMBIRA pilot will continue into the latter part of 2018. Implementation will be conducted in seven partner schools in Woha Sub-district, five schools in Bolo Sub-district, three schools in Belo Sub-district, three schools in Wawo Sub-district, and three schools in Langgudu Sub-district.

It is expected that the pilot implementation in Bima will work to improve student learning outcomes, especially through effective transition strategies that introduce the use of Bahasa Indonesian in the classroom  learning outcome, while not erasing local mother tongue language.

Building phonological awareness to improve students’ literacy skills in Bima