Literacy Pilot in Dompu Awakens Teachers’ Creativity

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 Dompet Dhuafa, working to increase literacy-based school independence and performance in Dompu, an INOVASI partner district in West Nusa Tenggara. Saya terlibat dalam program ini dalam kapasitas sebagai kepala sekolah.

When it comes to effective teaching and learning, the classroom environment plays a central role. In order to engage students in the learning process, teachers must get creative – ensuring that the classroom is interactive and comfortable.

A comfortable and visually engaging classroom is usually a sign that the teacher is creative and engaging. In Dompu’s Hu’u sub-district, SDN 05 primary school is no exception. At SDN 05, a partner school in the INOVASI and Dompet Dhuafa pilot program, grade five has recently undergone a transformation. The teachers and students have worked together to make the classroom a comfortable and visual learning place.

Rifai, the school’s grade five teacher, is a senior member of staff at SDN 05 Hu’u. He was chosen as a participating model teacher in the new leadership and literacy pilot.

Among his colleagues, Rifai has long been known as an active and highly creative teacher. But, over time and without further training and motivation, he found that his creativity was lost. The lack of an engaging classroom environment lowered his creativity.

When he was selected as a model pilot teacher, Rifai’s creativity was awakened. As he felt his enthusiasm return, he invited his students to work together and create a lively and engaging classroom atmosphere.

Through the new Dompet Dhuafa partnership pilot, a number of teachers from SDN 05 Hu’u including Rifai have received further training on integrated literacy – learning how to organize the classroom so that it is more conducive to literacy and reading. They also received the ‘Science Shelves’ and books training, as well as guidance on classroom management.

When starting the pilot, Rifai’s class was devoid of any learning materials and tools. In fact, it looked more empty than most other classrooms in his school. It took a long time for him to arrange things. He wanted the room to be different to others, and to stand out. For this reason, he invited his students to help draw and decorate the classroom walls. He would often go home late because he was focused on finishing the classroom decorations, and even used his own funds to purchase some of the learning materials.

After he had finished arranging the classroom, Rifai then tidied up the outside area and made a school community garden. Previously, the teachers at the school had planted trees in the schoolyard, as part of becoming a ‘green’ and environmentally friendly school.  Becoming a ‘Green School’ has been a long term goal of SDN 05, as driven by teachers during strategic school discussions. Unfortunately, only a few trees have survived.

To improve the planting process this time, Rifai took the initiative to plant flowers in poly bags. At first the flowers were only displayed in front of the class, as arranged by Rifai and his students. The students also worked together to create a larger garden, with Rifai’s guidance.

Thanks to the efforts of Rifai and his students, their classroom is well visited by other teachers and students in the school. In fact, other teachers are now replicating his ideas for their own classrooms.

“I am often asked by other teachers to organize their classrooms. The request sometimes even come from other schools,” said Rifai proudly.

Rifai, who taught sixth grade for the past two years, admitted that he has now learnt many things from the Dompu Duafa pilot program. One of them is the approach to teaching students. For him, teachers should be interactive with their students. He kept this in mind when arranging the classroom and working on the garden with his own class.

One other thing that Rifai has learnt is strategies for teaching reading and literacy. A year ago, he received a number of students to his class, but there were seven of them who could not read, even though they were already in the sixth grade. These seven students then received special attention, and Rifai guided them through the reading process.

“Children basically need motivation so they are motivated to learn. Give them the right reasons why they should study,” explained Rifai. “They still need praise for every little effort they have made. Don’t burden them.”

After some time, the seven students finally, slowly, began to read. This is a key skill they can take into their final examinations.

Literacy Pilot in Dompu Awakens Teachers’ Creativity