According to the Ministry of Education and Culture, the gross enrollment rate for Early Childhood Education (ECE) in Indonesia is at a historical high, reaching 70% in 2016. Currently, access to early learning is spread predominantly across private sector players and informal community-based settings. The boost in ECE enrollment was achieved as the government’s initiative, One Village One ECE Center program, which was successfully implemented during recent years. Yet, while equitable participation is likely to be attained soon, the quality of ECE remains a concern.
ReachOut Foundation, with the mission to educate one million children, is one of the strong players in the area of early childhood. Operating 8 ECE centers (or PAUD) in Jakarta housed within Rusun complexes (government-subsidized, low-income apartment housing), in addition to 2 PAUD centers in Papua, the Foundation has some tips to share:
A. Interactive monthly parent meetings are an effective channel to communicate vital information.
Preschools often face a common challenge of parents’ misunderstanding regarding the overall purpose of early education. Many insist that ECE centers start to teach basic reading and writing skills, despite it being a developmentally inappropriate practice. Constant communication to parents while educating them on the logic of play-based learning is key. Otherwise, how can a child learn to write if s/he does not have the basic motoric skills to hold a pencil?
Parent meeting sessions help to build trust and encourage parents’ involvement in their children’s development. The key to a successful parent event is to make the program as interactive and fun as possible, e.g. cooking class, or parent-be-a-teacher day.
B. School leadership is an important element for ECE centers to run properly.
Just like any level of education, a preschool principal’s capability to lead correlates with student and teacher performance. Principals in ECE centers ensure teachers adhere to SOP, complete daily lesson plans, and receive the continuous professional development they need. The principals anticipate and solve emerging problems, thus creating a conducive environment for learning (playing).
Investing in preschool leaders is just as vital as investing in the teachers. Unfortunately, this perspective is often overlooked.
C. Empower local teachers. If they lack certain necessary qualifications, pair them with mentor teachers.
Local teachers are great assets. They have a slight edge in terms of forming stronger connection with parents and students, understanding the home context, and moving the homogenous community towards a certain goal. However, they often lack qualifications to facilitate learning and professional development opportunity is limited.
Developing higher competencies in local teachers can be done by pairing less experience local teachers with expert teachers till they are ready to be independent.
To learn more about ReachOut Foundation and their programs, please visit https://reachoutfoundation.org/