The principal of MI Muhammadiyah 5 Surabaya, Umi Sarofah, S.Pd., M.Pd., has a lot of work to perform. Apart from serving as a principal, this mother of five children also serves as the Vice Chairperson of the Gathering and Communication Forum for School Principals of Muhammadiyah Primary School/Madrasah Ibtidaiyah (Foskam) in East Java. As the Vice Chairperson of Foskam, Sarofah represents all educational institutions of Muhammadiyah Primary School/Madrasah Ibtidaiyah across East Java. In addition, she becomes the Chairperson of the Gathering and Communication Forum for Madrasah Principals of Muhammadiyah in East Java. She supervises the principals of madrasah ibtidaiyah, madrasah tsanawiyah, and madrasah aliyah of Muhammadiyah in East Java.
Sarofah was chosen as the chairperson because, as the Principal of MI Muhammadiyah 5 Surabaya, she has always voiced the need for the madrasah to advance alongside other Muhammadiyah institutions.
“Equal distribution of quality education is one of the advantages we can grab from being a part of an institution under Muhammadiyah. It means if the quality of non-Islamic schools under Muhammadiyah has been considered excellent, they must also embrace Muhammadiyah madrasahs to move forward together, and vice versa. Such a principle has driven us, the principals of madrasah ibtidaiyah, to keep pace with other non-Islamic primary schools of Muhammadiyah,” she explained.
Undoubtedly, MI Muhammadiyah 5 Surabaya is crowned as one of the best MI Muhammadiyah across Surabaya. Sarofah claimed that despite being located in the middle of a densely populated neighbourhood, markets, and favoured schools, this madrasah has always been in demand by the locals. Such a fact is supported by the reason that the madrasah she leads always balances the quality of general and religious education.
Serving as the principal since 2017, Sarofah admitted that she has encountered a wide range of difficult challenges. To be eligible for serving as the principal of madrasah ibtidaiyah, Sarofah and other candidates were required to complete a series of tests and interviews. Once, Sarofah was called into doubt because of her status as a civil servant at the Ministry of Religious Affairs and was seconded to a private institution. “The concern of the organisation at that time was I might be transferred at any time due to my status as a civil servant at the Ministry of Religious Affairs seconded to a private madrasah ibtidaiyah. Nevertheless, due to my eager vision of transforming madrasah ibtidaiyah into a better school, I could pass the selection test, leading me to serve as a principal,” she said.
Being the principal of madrasah ibtidaiyah is not a simple job. Sarofah has to manage 55 academic staff of the madrasah, including teachers and other supporting personnel with more than 600 students. Therefore, she started her milestone by tailoring the perceptions and purposes of all MI Muhammadiyah 5 Surabaya staff to work on the same goal— connecting visions and accomplishing goals.
In the next step, Sarofah focused on implementing the teaching and learning process and participating in competition-related activities. “We have participated in district/city, national, and international competitions each year. However, we were not well prepared to win. Thus, we need to advance our preparation level for the competitions to achieve victory and get the most excellent possible outcomes. It turned out that we could finally see the results after making changes in our preparation. We managed to win several competitions. Ultimately, we could reach the peak by winning the champion in competitions for primary school/madrasah ibtidaiyah throughout Surabaya,” she explained.
Sarofah consistently holds the commitment to connecting visions and accomplishing goals to date. She constantly manages her academic staff to deliberate in addressing any issue and discuss any activity they will organise. One of the examples was when INOVASI introduced its literacy program at her school, where she assembled her team to discuss it in advance. “We always organise a joint discussion before implementing any program in our madrasah, including the one developed by INOVASI in collaboration with the Muhammadiyah Regional Administrator in East Java. This way is part of our consideration that any program should be executed responsibly. There should be a strict commitment, especially from the teachers, in running every program mandated to this madrasah to impact the students positively,” she pointed out.
Sarofah confirmed that the literacy programs had remarkably impacted MI Muhammadiyah 5 Surabaya. The early-grade teachers who previously found it challenging to teach students reading, writing, and arithmetic now have found less trouble. Teachers become more creative as they are capable of creating various literacy media. Additionally, Sarofah and the Muhammadiyah Regional Administrator in East Java also encouraged 23 primary schools/madrasah ibtidaiyah under the Muhammadiyah leads to participate in literacy training with independent funding.