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DSC_0020Each year on Oct 5th, World Teachers’ Day, our Parents Support Group gather to celebrate and thank the teachers who dedicate their time, energy and passions to educating our students at Sekolah Victory Plus. We share some cake and a small present is given to all teachers, which is all very positive and appreciated. This year, however,we realized that the teachers at our school, an IB World school in Bekasi, Indonesia, are already reasonably privileged in that we are well educated, well-paid and have access to good resources and training.

When we researched the meaning behind World Teachers’ Day we realised that it was more than just saying thank-you and showing appreciation to our current teachers.

World Teachers’ Day is an event supported by UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation) The principal mission of UNECSO has been to contribute to the worldwide building of peace, poverty eradication, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue with education as a fundamental aspect of achieving this aim.

UNESCO states that, “It is recognized that teachers are not only a means to implementing education goals; they are the key to sustainability and national capacity in achieving learning and creating societies based on knowledge, values and ethics. However, they continue to face challenges brought about by staff shortages, poor training and low status.”

We realised then that our local teacher colleagues in Indonesian state schools are in much greater need than us. The CIA’s world fact book lists Indonesian annual education expenditure as only 2.8% of GDP, which ranks Indonesia as 143rd out of 173 countries listed. Many local schools face challenges such as large class sizes, poor resources, low teacher salaries and a lack of inquiry based teacher training.

What we realised we could do is donate our time and expertise with several experienced workshop leaders in our school and we devised a programme of teacher workshops based on student-centred inquiry-based teaching and learning. The workshops were sponsored entirely by our school, Sekolah Victory Plus, and the workshops leaders and trainers freely donated their time to this cause. We aimed to provide the teacher training entirely cost free for the local teachers. Our PYP Coordinators, Ibu Aini, Ibu Early, and our Early Childhood Education Principal Ibu Maria were the teacher trainers.

Other staff supported with registrations, nametags, materials and food.

Our first two workshops were held in late December at our school and we had 40 participating teachers from local schools, as well as several important local educational officials. We provided snacks, certificates, workshop materials and a school tour.

The workshop was about inquiry and play-based learning in the early years. Teachers were facilitated to look through the national curriculum documents about the topic.

Then we referred to the document for planning the learning using the ‘understanding backward design’ approach. Teachers practiced to design learning goals, successful

learning criteria and the learning experiences that are inquiry and play-based. Since the topic was about inquiry and play-based learning, they modeled what they taught and used a lot of games and opportunities for the teacher participants to construct own understanding.

One of our measures of success was that all the teachers and even the educational officials stayed in the workshops actively participating until the end, which does not often happen. Our feedback forms were overwhelmingly positive and quite a number of the teacher participants requested to register for the next workshops.

Our aim with this activity is that it will be a sustainable one and we plan to run regular workshops for these teachers, which not only will support the UNESCO aim of building teacher capacity in Indonesia, but also serving as a form of Action for our teachers, showing that we are caring and supportive of our local community.

Central Intelligence Agency. (2012). Indonesia. In The World Factbook. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-worldfactbook/rankorder/2206rank.html#id  last accessed 5th Jan 2016

OECD (2011), “How much are teachers paid?”, in Education at a Glance 2011: Highlights, OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag_highlights-2011-31-en last accessed 5th Jan 2016