SOUTHWEST ACEH, ACEH – SDN 2 Lembah Sabil primary school is 20 km from Blang Pidie’s city center in Aceh Barat Daya District. The school, located in the village of Menasah Sukon in Lembah Sabil subdistrict, was not well known and was not one of the District’s favorite schools or that had scored achievements. "Before becoming a USAID PRIORITAS partner, our school rarely received any training," said Juli SPd, the school's principal.
This partner school in the second cohort of project districts began to receive training and mentoring from USAID PRIORITAS in early 2014. Juli said that there was a clear contrast between the teaching carried out by teachers before and after 2014. "After having received training and assistance from district training facilitators, the teachers became excited about using active learning," said Juli, who became school principal in 2013.
Upon their return from the training, the teachers were required to present and share their new knowledge with the other teachers in the school. "The teachers who got the opportunity to participate in the training were obliged to train their fellow teachers. Then, all the teachers were asked to sign a commitment to implement active learning in their classes," said Juli. The school provides stationery and other necessities to support the implementation of active learning in the classroom. This is paid by school operational funds (BOS).
"The other teachers were also given the opportunity to sit in on classes and watch lessons being taught by teachers who had been trained give lessons," he said.
Juli has a routine schedule of supervision and observation in classrooms. "The supervision activities are to help teachers improve the teaching quality so that their learning objectives can be achieved more effectively," said Juli. The principal, prior to supervising a class, discuss the lesson preparation with the teacher. This is done outside teaching hours.
"I have a discussion with the teacher, for example, I guide him or her in preparing the lesson plan, worksheet, or instructional media, or in selecting and using the appropriate teaching methods," said Juli. This is followed by observation of the class at a time agreed upon by the teacher and the principal. The final part of this supervision activity is to discuss lesson improvements with the teacher so that teaching is even better in the future.
Juli also acknowledged that a study visit organized by USAID PRIORITAS inspired him to develop the school together with the teachers and the school committee. The relationship with the school committee is significantly different. "We are grateful to USAID PRIORITAS for involving the school committee in School Based Management training, so we were able to create a common vision and mission with the committee," said Juli.
"After the training and study visit, we sat down with the school committee and agreed to carry out major work to improve the school. We started by drawing up a school work plan and budget plan together, and continued with this so that, nowadays, all school activities involve the committee and increasingly involve the community participation too," said Juli.
One role of the school committee now is that, along with the community, they are often involved as resource people (speakers, informants, interviewees) during lessons and in other school activities, including teaching students how to grow crops and plant plants, and assisting with the reading culture program every Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday for half an hour.
"Some time ago, we expressed a desire to tidy up the school garden and make the school environment prettier. Of their own accord the school committee and community, donated what we needed to work on the garden, and some community members contributed plants, pots and flowers, and even their labor," said Juli who recognizes that transparency is critical in building trust among the community.
The Head of the Education Office for Aceh Barat Daya, Yusnaidi MM, expressed his pride in the school. "Thanks to God, significant changes have occurred in SDN 2 Lembah Sabil, especially in teaching and learning. The students are now more confident, more critical, and they like to ask questions. The school has become more lively and fun; the teachers are also motivated to teach well," said Yusnaidi proudly. "This cannot be separated from the principal's role; I think the way he guides the school is very good and creative," continued Yusnaidi.
The school received a series of awards at district level, among which, in 2016, were coming third for its achievements out of 106 primary schools in the district, gaining third place as a clean and healthy school, as well as winning the district competition for the achievements of its school principal. In 2015, this school with 115 students came first in the school quality competition at the district level, second in the school quality competition at the provincial level, hence had the right to represent the 3,286 primary schools in Aceh at national level.
Another thing that made the school proud was coming third in the school quality competition for primary schools at the national level organized by MOEC in 2015 in the teaching and learning category. Now, this scarcely known village school, has gained fame in the national arena. (Tmk) ?