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“Now I Can Read!”

Changes in West Papua Schools

“Now I Can Read!”
Students at SD Inpres 62 Gaya Baru Momiwaren, West Papua, enjoy reading in the school's reading garden. Being able to read makes students able to follow and understand other subjects.

SOUTH MANOKWARI, WEST PAPUA – “Sekarang sa su bisa baca! Baru, sa su berani cerita depan sa pu teman-teman ee (Now I can read! I am also confident to tell stories in front of my friends)," said Agus Ainusi, a grade 2 student at SD Inpres 62 Gaya Baru.

Agus came to the front of the class carrying a book that he had finished reading. In a loud voice, he told everyone about the contents of the book. A number of children retold the stories they had read. One student, Maria Sayori related the contents of a book she had read in the local Sough language.

During the last year, teachers from SD Inpres 62 Gaya Baru Momiwaren have received teacher training from USAID PRIORITAS. They have learned how to make teach fun, and to make children active and confident to ask questions. They have also learned how to teach students in the early classes to read well. What they learned in the training they have applied in the classroom, a process which was supported by the training facilitators.

"We use the Papua Contextual Text Books (BPKP) to teach children in the early grades. For children who are slow at reading, we use leveled reading books (B3)," said Satriani, a grade 1 teacher." Both of these sets of books have been proven to help children understand reading and mathematics better," she continued.

BPKP is a set of books for grades I to 3 which were written in Papuan dialects of the Indonesian language. Illustrations and examples in the books were selected from the Papuan environment and are understood by children there. Meanwhile, B3 is a set of books to help children who are learning to read. B3 consists of 6 levels. Level A are books for children who are just starting to read. Each page consists of pictures and one word or short sentence only. Meanwhile, in levels B, C, D and F, the amount content increases steadily. Children in the early grades I, 2 and 3, are grouped for reading activities by their reading ability.

SD Inpres 62 Gaya Baru is located in Momiwaren Sub-district in South Manokwari, West Papua. Momiwaren is located 120 km south of the city of Manokwari and the journey takes 4 hours. There are eight primary schools in Momiwaren, but not all of them are active. Some schools are closed because there are no school principals or teachers, one of which used to be SD Inpres 62 Gaya Baru.

A year ago, when the USAID PRIORITAS team first came to this school, it was in very poor condition. There were only two teachers and a school principal. And one of those teachers was no longer active. There were only 21 children. The school only had two classrooms and a house for the school principal. Beatrix Krey, the school principal, explained that lessons did not take place every day as it depended on whether the students and teachers attended school.

Now, after a year of carrying out improvements, SD Inpres 62 Gaya Baru has 58 students, four classrooms, seven teachers, including the principal, and an open air reading garden at the side of the school. The additional classrooms were provided by the local Education Office. They were also helped by the Education Office to obtain the required number of teachers. Now every class has a teacher. There are 13 children in grade I. This is the largest class ever at this school. Usually they have less than 10 students every year.

Beatrix Krey is seeking to improve the quality of the school. She provides for the needs of the teachers in terms of equipment and materials for their classroom teaching. Beatrix holds a meeting every two weeks with the teachers to discuss the condition of the school. The teaching team discusses student attendance.

If there are students who are absent, one of the teachers is tasked with visiting the parents of those students. They also discuss the progress of each student. If there are students who are slow learners, and cannot read, the class teacher gives them special attention and special assistance so them so they can catch up with their friends. The teaching team led by Beatrix Krey discusses the teaching and operational needs of the school. All these needs are met by the BOS (school operational assistance). So, all the teachers know how to use BOS funds.

The school has six classes, while there are only four classrooms available. So, grades 5 and 6 are combined in one classroom. They have also made a reading garden next to school which is used in turn for lesson. "Four mornings a week, before lessons begin, children read together in the reading garden," said Satriani. They are free to choose the reading books they prefer. The books were a grant from USAID PRIORITAS and other donors.

SD Inpres 62 Gaya Baru has proved that, with the painstaking efforts of the education authorities, school principals, and teachers, schools in the interior of Papua can be improved. All children in grades 2, 3 and 4 are able to read so that they can learn other subjects in grades 5 and 6 without difficulty. Papuan children are smart. With appropriate teaching, they can excel. (Hw)


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