Located on the eastern side of Sumbawa island, and with a unique cultural context, Bima has its own challenges in education. With a population of more than 400,000, and a primary school dropout rate of 11%, Bima’s priority education programs in 2016-2017 focused largely on teacher quality and competence.
For Haerunnisa, a teacher and INOVASI local facilitator, being a teacher is so much more than a job. Rather, it shows a commitment to educating children and preparing the next generation. In 2017, Haerunnisa was a participant in INOVASI’s Guru BAIK pilot, which supports teachers to nominate, develop and test solutions to learning challenges they face in the classroom.
“Being a teacher must be sincere and teach from the heart,” said Haerunnisa, known in her community as just ‘Nisa’.
Nisa is seen as an inspiration amongst her peers, with her drive to develop creative and local learning solutions in the classroom. While involved in INOVASI, she has trialled the use of two particular methods to improve student literacy and numeracy skills.
Learning multiplication with bamboo
In collaboration with her colleagues at primary school SDIT Wihdatul Ummah in Bima, Nisa created a method for learning multiplication using bamboo. This tool called ‘Multiplication Bamboo’ or ‘Bambu Perkalian’ (BAPER) in Bahasa Indonesia, was a well-known idea during the 2017 Guru BAIK pilot. SDIT Wihdatul Ummah was one of the pilot target schools.
“BAPER is one of the media that can be used as an alternative to calculate the multiplication of the numbers for elementary school students grade 3 to grade 6. We used unused school fence bamboo as the material,” explained Nisa.
During the teaching process, the teacher makes 10 bamboo slats with numbers written on them, so that the multiplication number can be clearly seen. This method allows students to understand multiplication, which has been identified as a key challenge for students in Bima.
Seeing that ‘BAPER’ was well received, Nisa felt motivated to make more teaching methods. In addition to BAPER, other numerical learning models that she made included a coloured animated card. Made of plain paper, it had an elephant and rabbit animation taped to two coloured pieces of papers. There was pink for the value of tens with the elephant animation, and blue with the rabbit animation showing the unit value.
“No numbers were written on the card. The students write it themselves. Animation is used to accommodate students with special needs, such as colour blindness. So, they can see clearly that rabbit represents units and elephants for tens,” she said.
Acrostic poems help student literacy skills
In addition to learning innovation in the field of numeracy, Nisa has also focused on literacy skills. One innovation she has trialled in the classroom involved using acrostic poems to enhance student literacy and writing. Students were required to write an acrostic poem about an object in the local school environment.
“Students are invited to make poem with a clear physical object. Come to the object, observe, feel and then write it into poem,” Nisa explained.
At the time, writing poetry is difficult for students. The lack of teachers’ ability to create interesting, fun and easy learning also does not help student improvement.
“Let alone make a poem, the students don’t even understand the meaning of a poem because the learning is only limited to theoretical and traditional approach. The purpose of learning poem writing is to cultivate the appreciation of students in enjoying and ultimately producing a beautiful paper,” added Nisa.
Innovating with INOVASI
Now, Nisa is one of the local facilitators for INOVASI’s GEMBIRA pilot, which focuses on helping teachers to better plan and manage the transition from mother tongue to using Bahasa Indonesian as the primary medium of classroom instruction and assessment. As a local facilitator for GEMBIRA, Nisa has participated in various training activities to date organised by INOVASI.
“From the trainings I get a lot of lessons. Teachers are encouraged to discover potential, especially new learning methods. We are invited to realize the problem and find potential solution,” she said.
Nisa believes that INOVASI will continue to inspire teachers to innovate and help change the quality of education in Bima, especially when it comes to literacy and numeracy skills at the primary school level.