In Central Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, INOVASI is working to improve learning outcomes in literacy and numeracy for children with learning disabilities through the SETARA pilot. Creating more inclusive classrooms is a priority for the Central Lombok Education Office but identifying the root of the problem takes further exploration, and a conversation between all stakeholders. INOVASI has put its Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) approach into action in the district, with initial exploration and problem synthesis commencing in April 2017. Last month, pilot results to date were presented at a validation workshop in Jakarta with key stakeholders.
Inclusive education in Central Lombok
As one of Lombok’s four administrative regions, Lombok Tengah (or central Lombok), declared itself an ‘inclusive district’ in 2012. With an 84.6% literacy rate, the district has already allocated resources to support certain groups of low performing students. These existing programs, like the Program Kewenangan Tambahan, have targeted special educators and teachers from special schools. However, if student learning outcomes are to improve, inclusive education remains an area for improvement. For the almost 6,000 teachers in Lombok Tengah, strategies to address inclusive education and children with learning disabilities (CWLD) can be strengthened.
In all partner districts, including Central Lombok, INOVASI works and learns directly with its local partners to explore and understand the local context, and then design, try out and test proposed locally relevant solutions. During the SETARA pre-pilot stage, using the PDIA approach, a key identified problem faced by teachers was the identification of students with learning disabilities. In addition, once learning barriers are identified, teachers then struggled to know how they could provide optimal learning support and tailor-made solutions for each student’s learning needs. Participating teachers advised that they need a tool to help identify and diagnose learning disabilities, something that INOVASI can support in coordination with teachers, principals, and supervisors. This tool could be adapted from existing strategies and materials developed by other organisations.
A forum to review and reflect
Based on these pre-pilot results to date, INOVASI presented to central and regional stakeholders at a workshop that took place from 1-2 February 2018 in Jakarta. Workshop discussion not only included INOVASI’s findings and plans for tool development, but also the new design of the pilot.
The workshop was attended by Head of Special Education and Special Services Directorate (PKLK) and representatives from the Center for Development and Empowerment of Mathematics Teacher and Education Personnel and Special Education (P4TK/LB) from the Ministry of Education and Culture (Kemendikbud). In addition, the Head of Central Lombok Education Office, Mr. H. Sumum, as well as Australian Government representative Benita Chudleigh and INOVASI Program Director, Mark Heyward, were in attendance.
Head of the Central Lombok Education Office, Mr. H. Sumum said that he welcomed the SETARA pilot program. He felt hopeful seeing the schools in Central Lombok receiving support from INOVASI. He hoped that in the future there will be more schools in Central Lombok that adopt SETARA and all schools can be given information about SETARA. Government funding can also support this pilot in the future.
“Inclusive education is inevitable,” said Director of PKLK, Mrs. Poppy Dewi Puspitawati, at the workshop. “The most important thing is how to improve the quality of educators. If the school has declared itself as inclusive school, it means there must be a companion teacher in accordance with the children’s needs,” she added.
During implementation in the first half of 2018, the SETARA pilot will be aiming to help Central Lombok district government improve the ability of teachers to identify and support students with learning barriers. These learning barriers are those that can be handled by classroom teachers during the teaching and learning process, namely physical and sensory barriers, cognitive or learning difficulties, communication and behavioral/emotional barriers, and barriers in social interaction.
It is expected that through INOVASI support, the role of classroom teachers can be optimized in knowing the needs, potential, and barriers of students so that it will positively impact the quality of student learning. In addition, the pilot will look to see how the role of schools and other organisations can be maximised, as providers of inclusive education. The supporting role of disability focused institutions will also be explored, in improving local student learning services.