In West Sumbawa, one of six partner districts in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), INOVASI is implementing an early grade literacy pilot with selected schools, students and educators. Pre-pilot planning began in 2017, with full pilot activities commencing in mid-2018. Using a short course modality, teachers are learning the basics of early grade literacy teaching and learning, including strategies for teaching reading and writing. INOVASI’s 2018 baseline data showed that 19% of West Sumbawa early grade students in grades one to three did not pass a basic literacy test – in grade one, 38% of students did not pass. Many more boys failed than girls, with 24% of boys failing compared to 12% of girls. For those students who did not pass, skills in syllable and word recognition were the weakest.
Abdul Muis, a principal at Fajar Karya primary school, shares his pilot experience so far.
Fajar Karya primary school in Brang Ene sub-district, West Sumbawa, is not a new school. Although it was established long ago, there are very few students when compared to neighbouring schools. Across grades one to six, there are no more than 60 students – an average of 10 students per class.
The lower number of students has an impact on the amount of School Operational Funds (BOS) that they receive. While the school’s BOS allocation is not much, this hasn’t stopped Fajar Karya primary school from improving early grade literacy teaching and learning.
As one of the target schools for the foundational literacy short couse pilot (known locally as PELITA), early grade teachers at Fajar Karya have received training on how to develop student literacy in their classrooms. With limited teaching resources, they must be more creative.
Abdul Muis, the school’s principal, encouraged the participation of parents to help revamp all classrooms. Working together, they painted the classroom walls with various pictures, sometimes using leftover paint that parents volunteered from their own homes.
After the classrooms were painted, both teachers and parents began making many types of decorations and literacy learning tools. Staying after school hours, parents were happy to help. Thanks to this collaboration between the school’s parent community and the teachers, the classroom environment is now more conducive to learning. Early grade classrooms are now decorated with lively pictures and displays, which also serve as learning stimulus for students.
“In the past, when the bell rang, the children looked so excited to go home. I could even hear their happy cries from my room over there. But when we have these colourful classes, I never hear that again,” said Abdul Muis.
“I have been in this school for years. And I can say that the grade one students this year have more enthusiasm in learning than the classes before them. This is the result of collaboration of all of us, including friends at INOVASI parents,” explained Abdul Muis.