USAID Indonesia Mission Director, Erin McKee, and American Consul General in Surabaya, Heather Variava, visited partner schools in Makassar and Maros, South Sulawesi to see the impact of the USAID PRIORITAS program in almost five years of working with local governments, TTIs, and schools (01/26/2017).
SDN Gunung Sari 1 Makassar, UNM Lab School
SDN Gunung Sari is a partner school of Makassar State University (UNM) and is used as a venue for trainee teachers' practicums. The teachers, principal, and the school committee members have been trained and supported by USAID PRIORITAS facilitators and lecturers from UNM in implementing active learning, school based management (SBM), and developing a reading culture.
Together with the Makassar Education Office Head, Arismunandar, the group observed a grade 1 lesson. Students were sitting on a carpet on the classroom floor learning to read together using a big book. The teacher used a reading board and word cards to train the students' reading skills. The students were enthusiastic about learning. USAID Indonesia Mission Director, Erin McKee, also had the chance to read together with the students.
In grade 5, the group observed UNM student teachers, who were doing teaching practice supported by a teacher tutor. The students were in small groups and were studying the nets of cubes and blocks using square and rectangular pieces of paper. "What is the difference between blocks and cubes?" Erin asked one of the groups. “All the sides of the cube are square, while the sides of a block are rectangular," said one student, pointing at the learning media. "Thank you. Now I know," said Erin.
During a discussion session, Idrus, the school principal of SDN Gunung Sari 1 Makassar, explained that the school has enjoyed their hard work and commitment in applying the training from USAID PRIORITAS and the UNM lecturers. "By implementing active learning, SBM, and the reading culture program, we have won the literacy competition organized by Makassar City, which showed the improvement of the reading skill in our school," he said.
Widya Karmilasari, one of the UNM lecturers who participated in the visit, expressed gratitude for being involved in the USAID PRIORITAS training and the opportunity to go on a two-month internship at Michigan State University. "We have employed good practices in our lectures and developed cooperation with our partner schools to prepare students to be good quality teachers," she said.
MIN Maros Baru Has Gained 62 Awards After Three Years of Partnership
During the visit Nur Ridhawati, school principal at MIN Maros Baru said that the consistency with which the USAID program's methods have been applied resulted in her receiving an award as the 'Best Head of Madrasah' in South Sulawesi in 2015. "The training that we received has encouraged us to move forward and develop," she said.
This progress has resulted in the madrasah gaining many awards. Over the past three years, the school has received 62 awards, whereas only 10 awards were received between 1998 and 2012 before becoming USAID PRIORITAS partner school.
Maros District Head Hatta Rahman was accompanied by the Maros Regional Assembly Head, A.S Chaidir Syam, and Maros MORA Office Head, Syamsudin. He hoped that the USAID PRIORITAS program would continue. "I have noticed the students have become very enthusiastic about learning and teachers have become creative and innovative in their teaching. This is very good capital invested in the development of human resources in the future," said the District Head, who promised to disseminate the program to other schools using the district budget (Ajb)