WAJO, SOUTH SULAWESI – Muhammad Isrul, a Grade VIII student at SMPN 4 Tanasitolo Wajo, was chosen as the winner of a national junior secondary school level story writing competition organized by MOEC's Directorate General of Primary and Secondary Education in November 2015. Isrul's short story beat 2,043 other entries from all over Indonesia. It was entitled "Piala di atas Dangau" (The Trophy on the Hut) and was also published in the prestigious literary magazine Horison.
Reading regularly is one of the tips that Isrul had to offer. "I always schedule time to read books. With frequent reading, we can get more ideas and increase our vocabulary," said this fan of history and inspirational books. What is also important, he added, is to practice our writing often.
According to Amkayus, the Indonesian teacher who became Isrul's mentor, the reading culture program introduced by USAID PRIORITAS at SMPN 4 Tanasitolo has encouraged students to read in a serious manner. "In every classroom, we have made a reading corner. The school
also has a reading room that makes students feel comfortable reading and where it is easy to obtain books. The school also records what reading the students do. The students have books in which they must briefly summarize the contents of the books they read. The students who read the most books and write the best summaries are appointed 'King' and 'Queen' of reading every month," explained Amkayus.
He explained that the habit of reading and writing makes it easier for students to express their ideas in writing, including creating short stories. Here are some tips he has to help a student become a champion at the national level.
Firstly, students should get hold of short stories that have won competitions in the past and read them together. "Short stories that have won competitions are an inspiration and are sometimes based on personal experiences," he said. Secondly, make a plan of your short story. Thirdly, develop the planned story gradually in writing, paragraph by paragraph. "After each paragraph is finished, I advise the students regarding their vocabulary, the development of the story, and others things," he said.
Fourthly, make sure there is a conflict in the story. "For the story to be interesting, conflicts should arise but they must be carefully arranged," he added. As a result of such guidance, his student won the story writing competition at the national level. (Ajb)