MAKASSAR – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director Erin McKee and U.S. Consul General in Surabaya Heather Variava visited education institutions in Makassar and Maros, South Sulawesi, today to see the impacts of USAID's long-term partnership with the government of South Sulawesi, educational training institutions and schools to improve the quality of basic education in the province.
Today's visits focused on the impact of USAID's PRIORITAS project (Prioritizing Reform, Innovation, Opportunities for Reaching Indonesia's Teachers, Administrators and Students), which started in 2012 and will end later this year. The project has introduced active learning and contextual teaching techniques, leveled reading books, school-based management practices, and increased community participation.
By working with individual schools, teacher training institutes, and local communities, USAID has helped improve the overall quality of education so that students can develop better learning habits. Mission Director McKee and Consul General Variava visited USAID partner schools Public Elementary School Gunung Sari I in Makassar and Public Madrasah Maros Baru.
The Consul General and the Mission Director observed classes, talked to teachers and administrators, and met several members of the school committees who are actively involved in classroom support for teachers. “The communities around the schools are actively involved in classes to help teachers deliver better teaching. These schools have shown strong commitment to improving the quality of teaching and their results demonstrate their success,” Consul General Variava said.
"It's wonderful to see how excited the children in these schools are about what they're learning, and how proud their teachers are to use the new skills they've learned! The many improvements at these schools, and our other USAID partner schools, show that implementing active learning and school-based management has created better quality education for thousands of students,” USAID Mission Director McKee said.
Nur Ridhawati, the head at Maros Baru, said that implementing the USAID project methods played a significant role in her award as the best Madrasah Principal in South Sulawesi Province in 2015. "The training has motivated us to keep moving forward,” she said. The progress has also resulted in many other awards. In the past three years, the school received 62 awards (compared to 10 awards received between 1998 and 2012 before its partnership with USAID).
Idrus, the principal of Gunung Sari 1, explained that his school has also enjoyed recognition for their commitment to the improved education practices. “By implementing active learning, school-based management and community participation in our reading program, we recently won a city-wide literacy competition for our improved reading program,” he said.
Head of Makassar City Education Office Ismunandar agreed that the USAID PRIORITAS project has provided a big boost to quality education. “Learning has become more relevant to the students’ context, environment and needs. Teachers have become more innovative in developing teaching methods, media, and resources for learning. Students enjoy their lessons more and produce more interesting work. And reading becomes a habit for every student,” he said.