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District Commitment Results in PRIORITAS Literacy Award

District Commitment Results in PRIORITAS Literacy Award
During the PRIORITAS Literacy Awards ceremony, three students demonstrated the impact of the reading program in their schools. (Bottom) Aisyah, a sixth grader of SDN 1 Allakuang, Sidrap, South Sulawesi, who read 117 books in five months, narrated the storyline and the moral of a book she had read.

JAKARTA – One of the USAID PRIORITAS program goals is to improve reading skill and reading interest in schools. This directly supports Ministry of Education and Culture's School Literacy Movement program.  At the request of MOEC, USAID PRIORITAS has supported its partner districts in the development of reading programs, which resulted in the PRIORITAS Literacy Awards.

”Recipients of PRIORITAS Literacy Awards are districts that have developed a literacy program in schools and communities that can become a model for other districts,” said Handoko Widagdo, USAID PRIORITAS School Development Specialist (20/3).

The criteria used by USAID PRIORITAS in determining which districts should receive the PRIORITAS Literacy Awards are:

  1. There is a legal basis for literacy program, either a Regulation, Decree or Circular Letter issued by the District Head or Mayor
  2. There is a clear allocation in regional budget to finance literacy programs
  3. There are a team and coordinator to oversee program implementation  
  4. Schools implement regular 15 minute periods of reading activity.
  5. There is a clear program to increase the book supply to schools
  6. There is a training program for teachers and schools in the development of literacy

Based on these criteria, 19 of 93 USAID PRIORITAS partner districts were chosen as recipients of the literacy award, namely Aceh (Southwest Aceh and Bireuen); North Sumatra (Labuhanbatu and Serdang Bedagai); Banten (Serang and Tangerang); West Java (Cimahi, West Bandung and Tasikmalaya); Central Java (Banjarnegara, Demak, and Sragen); East Java  (Banyuwangi, Blitar, Lumajang, and Sidoarjo); and South Sulawesi (Sidrap, Maros, and Wajo). The awards were given by Director General of Primary and Secondary Education at MOEC, Hamid Muhammad.

Each district has established a Literacy Team, a cross-agency team responsible for the literacy program implementations in the district. The coordinator ensures the implementation of activities, such as Deputy District Head, Education Office Head, or local library head.  

Janatin and Hamzah Haz, students of SMPN 4 Lumajang, presented a compilation of short stories written by students and made into a book to demonstrate the impact of their increased interest in reading.

The main programs of a model literacy district are to build models of good practice in schools, increase reading habits among students, increase the book supply, generate motivation, and improve reading skills in the early grades of the primary school using Leveled Reading Books and through implementation of active learning and contextual learning in the higher grades of primary and junior secondary school.

The program to develop reading habits includes (1) regular 15 minute reading activities, and (2) other special reading times. The book supply is increased through empowering regional libraries to provide books for schools, making allocations to buy books in the district budget, using school operational funds (BOS), working with companies, and community participation (especially parents and alumni).

USAID PRIORITAS has helped districts and partner schools to disseminate reading culture development. The support  included:

  1. Training teachers, principals and school committees in partner schools in the dissemination of three teaching and learning modules, and three modules on school based management, and the development of a reading culture.
  2. A grant of 150 children's reading books to partner primary and junior secondary schools.
  3. A grant of over 600 leveled reading books for each of 13,000 partner and non-partner primary schools. These grants were supported by training and mentoring for the early grade teachers in how to use the books to increase students' reading skills.
  4. Assistance with planning and budgeting for the District Reading Culture program and the legal basis preparation.
  5. Training of supervisors, school principals and librarians in the implementation and monitoring of the reading culture program in schools. (Hw)

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