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.
As part of the SETARA pilot program, INOVASI recently held a training for nine new local facilitators in Central Lombok District in Mataram from 22-24 March 2018. This training was a first step for new local facilitators before commencing the 2018 pilot, which is assisting teachers in 19 target schools across Central Lombok.
During the training, the facilitators were equipped with knowledge on how to identify problems and barriers in the teaching and learning process for children with special needs in the classroom. They also enhanced their understanding in identifying children who experience physical, sensory, cognitive, communication, behavioural, emotional and social interaction barriers. Once they gained knowledge about the identification of children with special needs, the local facilitators were then guided to find solutions on appropriate learning patterns to overcome learning difficulties for both the children with special needs and regular students.
During the training, local facilitators discussed the challenge that children with special needs are not only children who have physical or mental deficiencies but who also have difficulties in sitting through normal lessons. Therefore, special handling is required in terms of teaching and learning methods and selected learning media.
“Through this SETARA program, teachers are directed to find formulations on how to teach children with special needs, including the use of learning tools. And we can also utilize the objects that are around us to be learning tools,” said Dr. (HC) Ahmad, one of the local facilitators.
According to Ahmad, many teachers still treat regular students and children with learning difficulties as the same in the classroom. Through the SETARA pilot, teachers began to more clearly understand that it is necessary to sort and choose the appropriate learning patterns, not only for regular students but also for children with special needs. The end goal is for each student to have the same opportunity to understand the lesson. These methods need to be uncovered and explored by the teacher themselves.
“For example, take numeracy. For regular students, teachers can give multiplication lessons in tens. But for children with special needs, teachers can give multiplication lessons in units that is easier. This way, regular students and children with special needs can both understand the lesson multiplication well. This is inclusive education,” Ahmad explained.
The SETARA pilot will focus on providing equal opportunities for all students in the classroom, regardless of their learning needs. Getting the learning process right and improving the different stages of learning and development is key.
At the training, the Head of Special Education and Special Services of NTB Provincial Education Department, Saiful Muslim, expressed his hope that the SETARA pilot program will run with maximum results.
“Central Lombok has declared itself an inclusive district. This is a form of local government commitment to support inclusive education,” said Saiful.
Saiful also confirmed that Central Lombok has been a pioneer in the implementation of inclusive education programs. “In the issue of inclusive education, Central Lombok is number one. And, we hope other regions, particularly in NTB, can also implement inclusive education in the future,” he proclaimed.