Children’s learning and education are suffering heavily from the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has forced education providers and actors to adjust learning strategies to enable continuous learning for children. The Tana Tidung District Education Office in North Kalimantan Province realises that the safety of students and teachers is their main priority. INOVASI has been supporting Tana Tidung District in North Kalimantan in facing the education challenges in these difficult times. INOVASI works directly with the Tana Tidung District Education Office in tackling learning challenges faced in this difficult time, one of which is by providing levelled reading books and interactive books that were developed by the Indonesian Children’s Literacy Foundation (YLAI).
In the new 2020/2021 academic year, the Tana Tidung District Government implements learning activities from home (BDR) as protection measures from the COVID-19 pandemic. A focus of the District Education Office in the implementation of BDR is development of children’s literacy skills. According to the Head of the Education Office, Jafar Sidik, SE, various contextual and meaningful BDR learning materials have been developed by the Development Team of Tana Tidung Education Office in order to improve student literacy skills. The team has been specially trained by experts from the Ministry of Education and Culture’s Center for Curriculum and Books, the Indonesian Literacy Society Forum (Formalindo), as well as the Australia-Indonesia education partnership, Innovation for Indonesia’s School Children (INOVASI).
To support learning from home, the Ministry of Education and Culture (MoEC) has launched an emergency curricula to give flexibility to students and teachers, streamline the learning process, and provide specific assistance to execute and optimize BDR activities. The Ministry also provided modules related to literacy and numeracy learning. According to representative of Tana Tidung District Education Office, the literacy module is very suitable as it provides clear guidance and also emphasizes the importance of students’ reading comprehension skills. However, the cost for printing and duplicating the learning materials is too high for the Tana Tidung District Education Office.
Teachers and Education Personnel (GTK) Section Head of the Tana Tidung Education Office, Diana, said, “We have decided to implement learning activities based on the literacy module provided by the Ministry. However, we developed the students activity sheets ourselves with some adjustments. For example, reading activities will still exist but we will not use the storybooks from the module as it will be too costly to print them. Instead, we will utilise the levelled storybooks from INOVASI as reading materials during BDR. They can borrow and read the book, then write the summary of the story using their own language in their journal. This method will still be able to provide children with the opportunity to read storybooks as instructed in the literacy module.”
Levelled and Iteractive Storybooks for Students
The Education Office immediately informed schools after receiving the storybooks from INOVASI. SD Swasta Trurich 01 is one of the schools that directly collected the storybooks. The school principal, Zunny Waliyaati, came to visit the Tana Tidung Education Office to collect them. It was was a long journey to get to the books. To reach the Office, Zunny had to use three types of transportations. First, by school car to go to the pier, then long boat to go to the pier in the Sesayap area, and lastly a motorcycle taxi to take her from the pier to the Tana Tidung Education Office.
The school then immediately created inventories of the titles and number of the storybooks. There are 82 titles with a total of 410 books. After the data collection, teachers and school principals contacted students’ parents through Whatsapp group to inform them that the school will come to visit students’ houses to distribute the storybooks.
Previously, SD Swasta Trurich 01 only have limited number of storybooks. Most of the books that are available in the school library are textbooks and knowledge books, such as RPUL (Summary of Complete General Knowledge) Indonesia, that they purchased from book sellers who came to their school.
Collaboration of Schools and Students’ Parents
When the teachers visited students’ homes to distribute the storybooks, each student can choose four books according to the students’ interests and abilities. Mapping the student abilities had been done previously using instruments developed by the Tana Tidung Education Office. The mapping exercise has been really useful do determine appropriate learning and materials for their students.
Teachers took note to record all the books that are borrowed by the students – students will have a week to read those books. For early grade students, teachers offer them books with short stories and texts, while higher grade students has options of storybooks with longer texts.
The school and the parents also made an agreement to collect and exchange storybooks. Tuesday will be the day for students to exchange the storybooks that have been borrowed – to date, the exchange has been done twice. Clearly, the efforts made by the school have been received positive positively. According to the principal, many parents of the students requested through the Whatsapp group for the storybooks to be exchanged more frequently. Apparently, the children have been very enthusiastic and they finish reading the storybooks earlier than expected. Some students who live near the principal’s house even come to her house to borrow other storybooks.
In the future, the Tana Tidung Education Office plans to maximize the use of storybooks provided by INOVASI. Diana explained, “When the COVID-19 pandemic situation subsides and schools reopen, we plan to utilise the activity sheets that require children to read every day. The school will also continue lending the children the provided storybooks . Moreover, there is also a plan to provide storybooks suitable for grade 4-6 students since the current collection of storybooks is only for early grade students.”