Ilustration: Learning session in an elementary school in Papua Barat (Photo: KOMPAK)
Scores of students gathered in the back yard of Gwereshera Elementary School in Kaimana district, Papua Barat. They were busy with their hoes, shovels, and watering cans, learning how to plant cassava from officials from the Kaimana District Agricultural Office. For children, learning through practice is fun and effective.
Through the LANDASAN Program, KOMPAK works to improve access to, and the quality of, basic frontline services – such as schools and health centres – in 10 districts of Papua and Papua Barat. The program – delivered in partnership with local partner Yayasan BaKTI – also supports local governments to better fund, monitor and manage these and other basic services.
“I wanted some changes at this school,” explained Elizabet Calarce Lesnussa, Principal of Gwereshera Elementary School which has 262 children enrolled.
According to Elizabet, who has been teaching here since 1998, there are many challenges in realising her dreams for the school.
“Previously, many teachers were absent from teaching. It was the same for the children. They preferred playing or going to the fields with their parents. Support from the community was minimal,” she said.
Elizabet’s fight to initiate changes started when she was appointed the school’s principal in 2014. The 47-year-old woman provided an example for her peers. She was punctual, participated in school cleaning, paid attention to student development and established communications with the surrounding communities.
Slowly but surely, changes occurred. Teachers followed her example and were on time, prepared for lessons, and communicated with the students’ parents or guardians.
“However, all this was not enough. We needed support to improve our knowledge and skills to manage the school more effectively. At that time KOMPAK appeared,” she said.
KOMPAK, together with BaKTI, organised training on the minimum service standards and school-based management. These tools provide officials – like Elizabet – with tools for knowing what changes are needed, such as knowing how many teachers are needed, and how to manage the school better to achieve better education outcomes for the children.
Through training and guidance over one year, Elizabet, the teachers and the School Committee made many significant breakthroughs. KOMPAK supported an internal review process led by Elizabet, her teachers and the school committee members to assess the school on the minimum service standards for education.
Based on this review, they developed a follow-up plan to improve learning and teaching activities, school management and administration, and coordination with the local village government. One of these is initiating extra reading, writing, and elementary math classes three times a week for children who experienced learning problems in class. They also re-activated the School Committee, providing them with a designated room, a role in monitoring student performance and well-being, and having the committee take a more active role in coordination with the community.
These efforts had a real impact. In 2019, this school achieved its highest ranking of accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Schools/Madrassa.
Bernard Inggama, the School Committee’s Treasurer and a father of six children enrolled in the school, acknowledged the changes that occurred. “Previously, this elementary school was considered a school to dump children who were not accepted at other schools. But now it becomes a favourite school. Many parents want to enrol their children in this school.”