In the early grades, it is common for students to learn simple letter and number recognition, before learning the basic of spelling and reading. However, more is needed, if students are to develop a comprehensive range of early grade literacy skills. They must also have the ability to write, listen and speak about what they have read. Comprehension is also key – the ability to process and understand passages of text. In North Lombok, low reading and comprehension levels are a key reason for INOVASI’s foundational literacy pilot program (also known as PELITA).
With a teacher population of 1,438, 606 of whom are certified, North Lombok is focussed on improving educational quality, particularly in the case of education services and education access for all children. Despite efforts to date, quality of learning outcomes in literacy remains low. Grade two student reading results, as tested by the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) toolkit in 35 schools across the district, indicate that reading fluency and comprehension sit at under 25% for students. The need to strengthen foundational literacy teaching and learning outcomes is an important one.
Getting the basics of literacy right in the early grades has positive flow on effects for all areas of learning. Through PELITA, implemented in both North Lombok and West Sumbawa, INOVASI will work to improve early grade student learning outcomes by enhancing teacher understanding of curriculum content. By improving teachers’ ability to use key processes for literacy development, including formative assessment, teachers may apply more effective teaching strategies and resources in their classrooms.
A key part of pilot implementation is the involvement of local facilitators, often teachers and educators themselves. These facilitators guide and mentor teachers in INOVASI partner schools. Last month, facilitators took part in INOVASI led training in Jakarta, to learn more about teaching strategies, literacy learning concepts, and ways to improve student skills. This knowledge will be put to use when they conduct training and capacity building with teachers at the KKG level in North Lombok.
During the Jakarta training, participants learnt more about how teachers can make simple learning media using materials around them. This media does not need to use sophisticated technology, but rather can be affordable, simple, and replicable by other teachers.
For example, one learning media explored at the workshop was the “big book”. Big book contains simple stories accompanied by pictures for students. One picture in the big book is made according to one sentence or one paragraph in the story book. So, each sentence or paragraph will have its own picture. This then attracts students to learn and focus on what is being read to them. This learning media is made in a large size so that students can more easily read it.
‘Microteaching’ was another area discussed at the training. Put simply, this means that when one local facilitator is practicing mentoring, another will act as the teacher – in a role play style format. They are then able to provide feedback and input, before they mentor with actual INOVASI teachers.
Facilitators were divided into clusters (or gugus areas), based on where they will work in North Lombok. When pilot implementation gets underway in the second half of 2018, they will work closely with teachers in their relevant cluster, helping to build their skills and knowledge.