Books Help Transform Indonesia’s Poorest Elementary Schools
April 27, 2011
A year ago, the Leuwiranji Elementary School in West Java was falling down. Located in a remote corner of the district of Bogor, the school’s 177 students come from poor families who are mostly employed in the sand-and-rock harvesting business that supplies a booming construction industry in Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta.
Dompet Dhuafa, one of Indonesia’s largest charity organizations, identified the school for assistance in 2010. The charity started by mobilizing in-kind resources to rebuild the school’s facilities. Trakindo, Indonesia’s main distributor of Caterpillar equipment, sponsored repairs to the school’s buildings, which were completed last November. Then, The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program donated much-needed English-language teaching materials for the school’s classrooms and library. Dompet Dhuafa has since placed a year-long, on-site mentor for Leuwiranji’s teachers. By modeling interactive classroom learning methods, the mentor has significantly improved how teachers do their jobs.
“Our school has been transformed,” Principal Sobirin told me on a recent trip to Leuwiranji. “I didn’t believe it could all happen so quickly,” he said, reflecting on his four years as the head of the school.
A tour of the fourth-grade classroom showcased the positive changes. Desks are set up roundtable-style, encouraging student interaction and discussion, rather than just rote memorization. The teacher leads an assignment, using oranges to engage students in an interactive mathematics lesson on estimation, averages, mean, and mode. Brand new readers and math workbooks are available and in great demand in the classroom library. While the space was still sparse, the class was alive with energy.
I visited Leuwiranji because it is one of 24 schools that received Books for Asia assistance through our partnership with Dompet Dhuafa in Indonesia. Other beneficiary schools are located across the far reaches of Indonesia’s archipelago, literally from Indonesia’s eastern-most town of Merauke, in Papua, to a school located in North Aceh, one of Indonesia’s farthest northwest locales. Over 13,000 English-language teaching books published by Pearson will be distributed to these partner schools this year.
“We use Dompet Dhuafa’s national network to identify schools most in need of assistance,” said Sri Nurhidayah, director of the Lembaga Pengembangan Insani unit, which manages the organization’s educational assistance. “We aim to improve the quality of education in low-income and remote schools. Our programs have reached more than 10,300 Indonesian teachers to date.”
The day I visited Leuwiranji, Dompet Dhuafa hosted a celebration of Books for Asia’s assistance, featuring music and a poetry reading by students. Fittingly, the event began with a quote from Mohammad Hatta, Indonesia’s first vice president (1945-1956): “I’d volunteer to go to prison, as long as there are books. Because with books I am free.”
Laurel MacLaren is the deputy country representative of The Asia Foundation’s Indonesia office. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About our blog, In AsiaIn Asia is a weekly in-depth, in-country resource for readers who want to stay abreast of significant events and issues shaping Asia\’s development, hosted by The Asia Foundation. Drawing on the first-hand insight of over 70 renowned experts in over 20 countries, In Asia delivers concentrated analysis on issues affecting each region of Asia, as well as Foundation-produced reports and polls.
In Asia is posted and distributed every Wednesday evening, Pacific Time and is accessible via email and RSS. If you have any questions, please send an email to email@example.com.
ContactFor questions about In Asia, or for our cross-post and re-use policy, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Asia Foundation
465 California St., 9th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104
PO Box 193223
San Francisco, CA 94119-3223
HIGHLIGHTS ACROSS ASIA
Inaugural Lotus Leadership Awards Dinner in San Francisco Honors Japan’s Akie Abe and Myanmar’s Colorful Girls
February 22, 2018
Asia Foundation and Lotus Circle Honor Japan’s Akie Abe and Myanmar’s Colorful Girls
February 14, 2018