Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Helping teachers help students in Indonesia

Meet Yufen from East Nusa Tenggara in Indonesia. Yufen lives with his grandma while his younger sisters live with his parents in another village. He loves to play soccer and he also likes school.

“On weekends, Grandma takes me to visit my parents. I love my grandma. When she takes me to the farm, she likes telling me lots of different kinds of stories,” says Yufen. “At home, I help her by collecting water for cooking from our neighbour`s well. I have lived with my grandma since I was little because my parents said the school here is better.”

Yufen is currently studying in the fifth grade. His primary school is supported by ChildFund Indonesia and its local partner, LPAA Belu through its Child-Friendly School program. ChildFund has completed classroom renovations and provided schools with school books, teaching aids, tables, chairs, bookcases and guitars. The program, which benefits 338 children and 17 teachers, helps schools become safe, healthy and protected environments for children, encouraging child participation in all aspects of school life.

“I like to go to school because I have many friends there,” Yufen says. “What I like most is science, learning about nature and living creatures. The teachers really care about us. If we are too noisy, they will remind us to be quiet and get back to studying.”

Yufen`s school principal, Maria Tai, agrees that the changes have been beneficial for everyone. Teachers have learnt better ways to convey information to their students by preparing lesson plans, managing their classrooms and disciplining children in more effective manners. In turn, students are more comfortable asking questions and giving their opinions in class.

“Before the training on child-friendly schools, we easily became angry with children when they made mistakes. Slowly, we have changed our interactions with the children. Now, we listen to children’s needs,” says Tai. “For example, on the second break between classes, children were usually asked to just stay in the class. Some children mentioned that it was really boring and asked if they could take a break in the library. I thought it was a good idea, so I let them. Now, students are reading more than just their textbooks and are discussing what they have learnt back in class.”


Yufen and his friends with their water jugs to water the school garden.

The children have also started to water the plants in the school garden; a task formerly done by staff members. “We never thought that it could be of interest to them and that they could participate,” Tai says. “Now, children water the plants every day, using the water jugs they bring from home.”

Yufen notes that there are other new projects that have brought fresh life to their school. “We made our own attendance boards,” he says. “We made them from recycled materials like used plywood, paper and plastic. We made it together in class. When we come in to the classroom, we mark our arrival time ourselves on the attendance board.

“In every class we also have an honesty box. It is made from used carton. It teaches us to practice honesty. If we find a pen, we put it in the box. If tomorrow morning, someone is looking for a pen, he or she will be asked to look for it in the box,” says Yufen. “Once, I lost my book. The next day I checked in the box and I found it had been put there by my friend!”

Yufen also likes to play soccer with his friends after school, but his village doesn’t have a soccer field, so they play in the garden. He hopes his school will get a field one day. As for the future, Yufen would like to be a soldier. He often visits the soldiers at the border post between Indonesia and Timor-Leste.

“The soldiers teach me how to be disciplined and polite, just like our teachers do,” Yufen says. “My favourite soldier is Farid; he is a soldier from East Java. He once gave me a school bag and has played soccer with me many times. He also taught me how to play volleyball. I was sad when he was stationed somewhere else.”

ChildFund’s education projects around the world are helping to ensure children living in thousands of poor communities have access to quality child-friendly education.

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