Involving parents in a child’s education

In September 2018, INOVASI commenced 27 grant-funded pilots, with 18 new grant partners. This grants initiative is a key part of our approach to expanding and strengthening engagement with Indonesia’s non-governmental education sector. One of these grant partners is Edukasi 101, working to strengthen early grade literacy and numeracy in West Sumbawa and Sumbawa, INOVASI partner districts in West Nusa Tenggara province. In this story, we learn more about first grade teacher Nurkomah and her pilot experience so far.

Nurkomah looked fondly around at her classroom. The room was so vibrant and colourful. Colourful pieces of paper dangled from the ceiling above. The classroom walls were decorated with various learning tools, including posters covered with letters, and paper cut into many different shapes. Student work was displayed everywhere. There were even rows of family photos against one part of the wall, showing images of students with their families.

“Those parents helped me a lot to make this class interesting. They provide a lot of material and energy support so that we can be more comfortable while studying in class,” said Nurkomah.

Nurkomah is a first grade teacher at SD Beru primary school, West Sumbawa. Her school is a partner with the Edukasi 101 institute, an INOVASI program grantee implementing an early grade literacy and numeracy pilot across the district. As part of pilot activities, Edukasi 101 is working to strengthen parental support for schools through the formation of parental class groups.

Nurkomah explained that the parental class groups consist of all student parents. Each class at SD Beru already has its own parental class group set up. For Nurkomah’s own class, this group has been around already for a year.

“Since the first meeting last year, we have formed the structure, chosen the chairman, and began to discuss what is the class needs and how to fulfil them,” said Nurkomah.

In her class, students’ parents worked together to paint the classrooms, making them more vibrant and interesting for children. They also painted student chairs and tables in various colours. They agreed to create classrooms that make their children feel at home, with a comfortable learning environment.

Initially at SD Beru primary school, the parental class groups were only formed for students in the early grades (those assisted directly by Edukasi 101). However, after seeing how useful and positive they were, higher grades began to replicate the idea. As a result, currently all classes at SD Beru have a functioning parental class group.

Erna Suryani, SD Beru principal, said that the presence of the parental class groups in each grade has greatly helped the school improve the quality of learning. Schools and parental class groups can now complement each other. She emphasised that the involvement of parents in the school improvement was always voluntary.

“We invited the parents and asked them to sit in the class for some time. They could feel how their children feel when they are in the classroom. After that, each parent came up with their input and then we discussed it together,” explained Erna.

When it comes to improving teaching and learning, all stakeholders must be involved in the school community. This is the reason why parental class groups were formed. Asep Iryanto, Master Trainer from Edukasi 101, emphasised that “parents are an important element because students spend more time in the family than at school. So, if you want to make changes to students who are in school, parents must also be involved.”

Asep added that the existence of the parental class groups does not overlap with the existing School Committee. Rather, they each focus on different tasks and are complementary. While school committees are more general in nature, the parental class groups respond to classroom issues that are more detailed and specific. At present, the parental class groups are present in 16 partner schools of Edukasi 101 in West Sumbawa.

In addition to improving the quality of the classroom, the parental class groups also open up space for better communication between teachers and parents.

Involving parents in a child’s education