Improving literacy skills for children in Pulau Moyo

Pulau Moyo, a sub-district of Sumbawa in West Nusa Tenggara province, is famous for its natural beauty. Despite this, education quality remains low, with greater attention and support required from various stakeholders. With electricity only available at night, learning using electronic media is difficult. There is still a need for learning media adapted to local conditions and the learning process.

While children are ready and willing to learn, this is not necessarily matched by teaching approaches at the classroom level. When trying to improve literacy learning outcomes, many teachers use conventional approaches, with limited access to textbooks and little variation in classroom learning media.

Seeking to address this issue, the Literacy Boost pilot program (otherwise known as ‘Gema Literasi’) is working to improve literacy skills of primary school children in early grades in Pulau Moyo and other areas of Sumbawa and North Lombok. Literacy Boost is a pilot supported by INOVASI and implemented by Save the Children Indonesia at the local level. Implementation began in late 2017 and will finish in August 2018.

As part of efforts to replicate the pilot in other areas of Sumbawa, training sessions were held from 15-17 March 2018 and targeting teachers from ten primary schools from Pulau Moyo and Pulau Medang. This training was an initiative of Sumbawa Education Office.

Rohani was one of the teachers who attended the training program. She was born in Pulau Moyo and went to school on this island. Rohani was impressed with the Literacy Boost training. Previously, she did not understand the meaning of literacy and literacy learning but after attending the training, Rohani immediately tried to apply her new-found knowledge. She created a wall dictionary, the name of the month and the name of the days as a medium of literacy learning.

In addition, she made some changes to lesson routine and structure in the classroom. Students were now expected to enter the class, and begin by praying, singing mandatory songs, and then were required to read for five minutes. Students were then divided into groups and assigned to write the names of days, months, or other interesting things and then read what they had written out to their classmates at the front of the class. The results of this exercise were then displayed on the wall. In turn, the class became more colorful and interesting for students.

In describing her students’ literacy skills, Rohani said that they had difficulty in recognising letters, during spelling, and reading. To address this, Rohani placed students with lower skills and those with advanced skills together at one table.

“Thank God, there is an increase in the willingness of these students to learn. By looking at pictures and learning media in the classroom, children immediately write and read books in the classroom. Children feel comfortable in the classroom,” said Rohani.

In addition, positive changes occurred to the classroom environment, as told by the principal, Zainal Abidin. S.Pd.

”With the Literacy Boost pilot, we have felt the positive impact since the beginning. Children are given the opportunity to pour out their thoughts. Then the teacher also helped with the student writing posted in the classroom,” said Zainal.

The Government of Sumbawa Regency is committed to implementing the school literacy movement as part of efforts to implement the Regent Regulation no. 5/2017 which governs the direction of the school literacy movement.

“It’s a good practice to follow up on. What has been done by the Literacy Boost team has a positive impact on improving children’s learning capacity in partner schools. Our hope is the program can be replicated to all districts of Sumbawa,” said Junaidi, Head of Primary School Unit of Sumbawa Education Office.

The Literacy Boost pilot program is also implemented in North Lombok District. One of the recent activities is the North Lombok Reading Festival, which is a reading competition for students in grades one-three. This activity took place in 25 schools from two sub-districts: Bayan and Kayangan. As part of this competition, students were tested for their ability in knowledge of letters, vocabulary, and reading.

Improving literacy skills for children in Pulau Moyo