In West Sumbawa, the Guru BAIK (meaning learning that is aspirational, inclusive and contextual) pilot is well known amongst early grade teachers. In 2016, INOVASI began the program in selected pilot schools, before the West Sumbawa district government expanded pilot activities to other schools in neighboring sub-districts, using local government funding (APBD). Since then, more and more schools participated in the pilot training and mentoring, and in 2019, it was scaled out to all primary schools in West Sumbawa. In the coming year, the local government plans to expand the pilot’s problem driven approach to junior high school level. In this article, partner teachers from the APBD Guru BAIK pilot share their experiences.
A few months ago, the participatory learning model was still foreign to Ibu Herani, a grade 3 teacher at SDN 2 Tepas primary school, West Sumbawa district. Previously, Herani’s teaching approach was more teacher centred, standing at the front of the class delivering the lesson, while her students sat silently and listened to the material. Active interaction between Herani and the students was rare.
“When I told stories, for example, they just listened and waited until the story was finished. After that, we continued to the next activity,” Herani recalled, with a small smile.
Since she began attending the Guru BAIK training and mentoring activities this year with teachers from other schools, she has learnt a huge amount about herself and her teaching approach. The pilot training has been continuously held by the local West Sumbawa department of education, youth and sports.
Herani has attended the training twice now, and has learnt many things.
“I got a lot of enlightenment so that I now know how to make students become more active, including in terms of providing interesting learning media. And thank God all that was successful when I applied it in the classroom. Classes became more crowded and not boring for both the children and for me,” said Herani.
Herani’s peer Ibu Astuti, also had a similar experience. Working as an early grade teacher at SDN 2 Seteluk primary school, Astuti said the two training sessions she has attended helped change her perspective on teaching. According to Astuti, the teacher should not be the ‘sole focus’ of the classroom, and students must be given the opportunity to voice their opinions and engage in their own learning.
“As teachers, we must acknowledge that there are teachers’ opinions and those of children, and we must discuss that. That way children will be more courageous and active in the class,” she explained. Astuti also made more of an effort to enhance the learning atmosphere in the classroom, to increase student participation.
Teachers have also been encouraged to create more engaging learning aids. Ibu Dian Fitriyanti, a teacher working with Astuti at SDN 2 Seteluk, was able to develop a new learning tool called ‘Lebu Edge’, with support from the Guru BAIK pilot. She uses the tool to help students more quickly understand the concept of division and other basic numeracy concepts. The materials are all recycled, and easily found in the local school area.
“By using this tool, children look more enthusiastic and enthusiastic in learning. They always want to come forward to use it,” said Ibu Fitriyanti.
The 2019 APBD supported Guru BAIK program retains most of the elements of the original pilot implemented by INOVASI in the district. INOVASI’s NTB – West Sumbawa Education Coordinator, Muhtar Ahmad, explained that the program seeks to encourage teachers to become teachers who are learners, ready to inspire their students. In addition, he continued, the pilot encourages to provide equal education services to students, despite their learning ability. Learning activities should also be locally contextual.
“The ultimate goal of this pilot is to improve children’s literacy and numeracy skills,” said Muhtar.
In 2017, INOVASI first implemented Guru BAIK in NTB in Sumbawa and North Lombok. It didn’t take long for other districts to become interested, willing to scale it out using local government budget.
West Sumbawa remains serious about replicating the pilot in all schools, reflected in the large budget allocation. Over the past three years, the scale out process hasn’t faltered, with hundreds of primary school teachers benefiting from the training and mentoring.
“There are no more primary schools in West Sumbawa Regency that have not been touched by INOVASI, especially through Guru BAIK,” said Lutpiah Ruswati, M.Pd, Head of Basic Education Development, West Sumbawa District Education Office.
The motivation doesn’t just stop there. In the coming year, West Sumbawa will plan to expand the pilot to junior high school teachers as well. According to Lutpiah, this decision was made after the local education office received numerous requests from junior high schools, who had heard about the Guru BAIK pilot.
“We have prepared a budget for this in 2020,” said Lutpiah.