By merging traditional village life with more standard school curricula, the Pegunungan Tengah community has seen great results. (Photo courtesy of Wahana Visi Indonesia)

Papua Schools Lead the Way in Innovative Class


APRIL 30, 2015

By merging traditional village life with more standard school curricula, the Pegunungan Tengah community has seen great results. (Photo courtesy of Wahana Visi Indonesia)

The success of education determines the success of a nation. As Indonesia’s founding fathers stated, every citizen should be educated. However, not all citizens have access to education.

Indonesia is known as one of the developing countries facing complex problems in education.

In fact, the quality of education in Indonesia is still very low. With this low quality, it will probably take a much longer time for Indonesia to move forward and become a developed nation. It also means it will also take a longer time for Indonesia to have higher qualified human resources.

According to the Program for International Study Assessment (PISA) survey conducted in 2012 by the National Center for Education Statistics in the US, the abilities of Indonesian students in reading, writing, and science is in the 64th position among the 65 surveyed countries.

Due to this, all parties should pay attention to education. It’s both a challenge and a motivation for all parties that the next young generation should get a better life through better education.

Papua’s education challenges

Papua is known as the lowest-educated province in Indonesia. The worst conditions can be found in Pegunungan Tengah (Central Mountains) district in Papua.

According to a survey conducted by Wahana Visi Indonesia (WVI) in 2010, only 53.2 percent of fourth grade students in Pegunungan Tengah could read, 50.7 percent could write and 41.8 percent could calculate numbers to their expected level.

The fact show the quality of primary school’s education in Pegunungan Tengah is still low caused by many factors.

One of them is a matter of proximity, since students walk on foot from their homes to the school which is often located many kilometers away.

The limited number of teachers is also another factor causing the low quality of education in Papua. In some cases, community members and religious leaders become involved in teaching because of the lack of teachers.

School management influences the level of quality and quantity education.

In some cases, it influenced the way teachers taught students. In Papua, it is common to find a teacher of fourth grader who are unable to master any learning material taught to the children.

In 2012, Unicef produced research showing that 48.75 percent of teachers in Pegunungan Tengah were absence from schools.

Low transparency of school management and low school monitoring become main reason of their absence.

Even at that time, seven of 10 headmasters in Pegunungan Tengah didn’t come to school because of the low ability in managing school.

With a lack of headmaster’s ability in managing school, the other staff were unable to perform to their best standard.

It takes a village to raise a child

Teachers are not the only ones who should be responsible for the quality of Indonesian children’s education. The community and parents should be involved in motivating their children to study.

In the community, children should learn in a safe environment since the environment and community become two main factors to support anti-violence education.

Both verbal and physical violence can affect a child’s psychological condition. Pegunungan Tengah is home to some tribes which are often involved in conflicts. This tribal conflict sometimes forces school to close.

When the school is closed, children lose their chance and ability to get education and play with their friends. The condition is getting worse since children don’t have the right to speak in the way adults do.

If there’s no chance, it is possible that gradually children lost their enthusiasm to study at school.

Playing truant becomes common habit for Papuan children since they don’t have the motivation to study. This problem could be overcome if the community works together to end tribal conflicts.

(Photo courtesy of Wahana Visi Indonesia)

Character education

Culture and education are inseparable. Character education will determine a child’s future. Through education, a child is able to acknowledge the moral values of their culture including hospitality, politeness, caring, respect and hard work which leads to harmony.

Therefore, it is important for children to understand their local wisdom directing them to be close to nature, social life and culture.

Nowadays in Pegunungan Tengah, many local cultures have been shifted and neglected. Silimo, the traditional language of the region, is fragile and nobody cares about it, says Nico R. Lokobal, the Dani tribe traditional leader.

Nico’s statement represents the fear of local value deterioration of Dani tribes which formerly dominated Pegunungan Tengah area.

The deterioration can be seen in the high rates of teenage delinquency, the increasing number of street children in the city of Wamena, the abuse of drug and alcohol, increasing HIV and AIDS infections and the high number of drop out students.

To overcome this problem, government and education staff must implement a character based education built upon local wisdom and introduced at a young age.

The children of Pegunungan Tengah need to understand the local wisdom about peace to end other tribal wars which are likely to happen in the future.

The local community also need to understand the needs of children so everyone can work together to fulfill and protect children’s rights.

In Papua, we have implemented this kind of education system which is called Pakima Hani Hano.

Pakima Hani Hano

Pakima Hani Hano means it is good to be in harmony. It’s a character education in Papua which was implemented since 2012 by the education office of Jayawijaya district alongside WVI and other stakeholders in Pegunungan Tengah, Papua.

The process also involved partners from the education and instruction office, academics, the Catholic Education Foundation (YPPK), and traditional and religious leaders from Jayawijaya.

This partnership successfully identified 33 positive cultural values from Baliem valley.

These values will be synchronized with school curriculum and carried on in daily teaching activity. With this model of education, it is hoped that Pakima Hani Hano values could be implemented in daily teaching activity in Jayawijaya that the students won’t forget their cultural identity – as well as improving their academic achievement.

Three local values that have been implemented in teaching activity are smart, creative, and innovative those previously were carried out by the Dani tribe.

“Pakima Hani Hano is an excellent education program that can be applied in Pegunungan Tengah. There are a lot of challenges that we have to face but if we work together, we can successfully apply this program,” said Johanis Lobja, chief of primary education from education and instruction office in Jayawijaya.

With Pakima Hani Hano, teachers are encouraged to be creative with local materials that can be found in their surroundings to support the implementation of national curriculum.

It’s believed that children will learn best when they are happy and familiar with the topic and the learning aid too.

For example, teachers taught science through a traditional ceremony known as stones heating.

It is a traditional cooking method using hot stones normally conducted for celebrations.

The teachers combine this simple daily activity with teaching how the stones are heated and the food is cooked. One action strengthens both the children’s knowledge and the cultural understanding simultaneously.

Although there are many challenges the people of Pegunungan Tengah face, they still have a willingness to increase the quality of education at primary school. Through the intensive assistance and coordination, village leaders and school staff agree to make a school committee.

The school committee is part of community action to increase the quality of education in Papua.

The real result of this committee can be seen in how parents deliver their children to school, how children help parents to make fences and clean the school yard, and how parents willingly join in school meetings, giving time, energy and ideas for the school’s progress.

The committee can also give opinions for school’s progress and control financial transparency in school. The committee believes the school superintendent could be more active.

By implementing this contextual education, the student’s presence in school is increasing.

The ability in reading has increased from 21.06 percent to 40.3 percent in less than a year.

This achievement is proof of the success of the school’s new management and the teaching staff’s new way of teaching students in class.

Murjono Murib, the head of education and instruction office in Jayawijaya admitted that Pakima Hani Hano brings many advantages for the student.

“Pakima Hani Hano benefits the younger generation of Papua that we think we will always support this contextual education. We also support what WVI do in preserving Papua culture.

“Through Pakima Hani Hano, we hope that children’s characters change to be better,” says Murjono.

Pakima Hani Hano has successfully proved that qualified education could be carried out if everyone is willing to involve in it.

Marthen S. Sambo is the monitoring evaluation and learning coordinator of Wahana Visi Indonesia for the Papua region