The ECED project strengthens early childhood education systems in rural Indonesia by addressing the low capacity of community teachers in poor and remote parts of the country to deliver quality education services. The pilot project works towards increasing teacher access to quality professional development services by leveraging and enhancing existing government teacher training programs, strengthening local capacity to deliver training at the district level, and introducing community participation in the service delivery process. This district-based, community-focused training system is piloted in 25 districts over a two-year program period, with the participation of 15,000 community ECED teachers from 2,647 villages.
"Proper budget allocation is important but equally important is how it will be spent." The words of Indonesia’s Finance Minister, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, as relevant today as they were when she first stated them in January 2017. Indonesia transfers over US$ 7 billion annually to villages nationwide, as part of the Village Law (Law 6/ 2014). But how are these funds used by villages and do they ensure that villagers have basic services?
Galung Tuluk, a coastal village in the Polewali Mandar regency of West Sulawesi, is setting a strong example of spending better to address the unique needs of its community. There, the village government has placed a high priority on ensuring that the youngest generation has access to quality basic services. Galung Tuluk is investing a large portion of its annual Village Law endowment to bring quality early childhood education and development (ECED) services to its children. This community-driven investment is of particular importance in provinces such as West Sulawesi, which have extremely high rates of child stunting. Galung Tuluk's spending on ECED is significantly higher that that of other villages in Indonesia, which on average allocate just 5% of village funds to health and education services.
The village fund allocations are a result of community-level decision-making, whereby issues are raised at sub-village consultative meetings, before being escalated to a village level meeting where they are prioritized. Respondents from the village government indicated that the investment in early childhood education came about because communities were aware of the importance of basic social services and engaged in village consultation processes, and village government leaders were willing to invest in the human capital of their community.
In April 2018, members of the ECED Frontline team travelled to the regency and spoke with village, sub-district and district officials to understand what drives and inhibits investment in ECED services in a decentralized Indonesia. The team found that in 2016, Galung Tuluk allocated 39% of its Village Law transfer (Village Fund) to early childhood education services. The allocation was spent on salaries for its 22 early childhood teachers and constructing a new early childhood centre – PAUD Bina Bangsa.
In 2017, 23% of the village fund was spent on ECED. Funds were used to raise early childhood teacher salaries by 67% and refurbish two existing centers. Galung Tuluk also increased allocations for village-level health posts, raised health workers’ salaries, and introduced supplementary feeding for toddlers, pregnant women, and malnourished children under five. The village also invested in village-level support groups for mothers of young children known as Bina Keluarga Balita (BKB). Two of Galung Tuluk’s ECED centres provide parenting, health and child education services in one location. These kinds of integrated services, which focus on pre- and post-natal health and education, can have a big impact on child stunting.
In 2018, Galung Tuluk had even bolder plans, seeking to allocate funds towards teacher training, in the same model as the ECED Frontline program they had participated in. However, Galung Tuluk was also unable to go through with teacher training as they couldn’t convince other villages to come together to create a minimum demand for training and the cost of training was too high for the village to bear alone.
Previously, under the auspices of the ECED Frontline pilot, teachers in Galung Tuluk were able to attend affordable and quality training organized at the sub-district level for a number of villages at a time. However, as seen in Galung Tuluk, generating and coordinating demand between villages to invest in teacher training is a challenge. Our research during these missions reveals that sub-district level actors like the Village Facilitator at the sub-district office, education and community empowerment offices at the district level, and training providers need to do more to pool demand from across villages if a village-financed training system for early childhood educators is to be sustainable.
Tuesday, Aug 1, 2017 Author: Thomas Brown
Indonesia continues to make strides in expanding access to early childhood education (ECE) across its vast archipelago, now reaching some 70.1% of 3-6 year olds. Yet despite this increased availability, quality of services continues to be poor, especially in rural and low-income areas. In particular, there continues to be reliance on under-qualified teachers, with many having received inadequate formal training, or none at all.
The vast benefits of ECE can only be realized if the services that children receive are of sufficient quality, and the lack of skilled teachers in rural areas risks reinforcing inequality of opportunity in Indonesia. As such, the race is on to provide adequate training to the ever-expanding force of early childhood educators to meet the needs of children across the country.
Fresh approaches are needed to achieve this scale, since government spending on ECE is limited and the current top-down approach to teacher training can be expensive. The existing model also presents major barriers for rural teachers, since it involves extended travel or relocation to regional urban centers for extended periods of time to attain their qualifications.
The recently introduced Village Law involves the transfer of up to US$140,000 in funds directly to each village in Indonesia, to finance development programs based on their own needs and priorities. There are currently 196,378 ECE centers in the country and almost all are privately managed, often by communities themselves.
Getting their children into quality pre-schools is often a high priority for community members, and the Village Law presents an opportunity for villages to invest in their own ECE centers and teachers in light of limitations in public investments.
Last year the World Bank, the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Villages launched the Generasi ECED Frontline pilot program in Indonesia. With funding from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the program aims to leverage the Village Law transfers to increase the availability of high quality, affordable professional development for ECE teachers in 25 rural districts. The program delivers quality training at the sub-district level, bringing it much closer to the teachers who serve their communities. This is done by expanding the force of local district trainers to provide training, as well as engaging local ECE NGO’s who handle the logistics.
The pilot also introduces community participation into the service delivery process. Village governments can nominate local teachers to receive training, and community groups enter into contract arrangements with the NGOs, and are responsible for monitoring performance as well as managing and dispersing funds.
In 2016, 203 training classes were delivered to community teachers from over 2,500 villages. For many of these teachers it was their first opportunity to attend formal training.
Encouragingly, master trainers were willing to navigate tough terrain, by motorbike or even small boats to reach remote areas, and also boarded with local families where no accommodation options were available. As a result of this commitment, training was delivered at the sub-district level, meaning teachers only had to travel short distances, could return to their homes at night, and were able to bring their own children to the training sessions.
The two-year pilot program operates by allocating earmarked funds for communities to purchase training for three teachers from their village each year (approximately Rp. 1,500,000 (USD 110) per teacher). As communities become more familiar with being involved in the service delivery process, it is hoped they will begin to use their own Village Funds to purchase the training package for their teachers, given it’s low unit cost.
This district-based, community focused training system puts forward a more market-based model for service provision by connecting supply and demand for quality ECE at the local level. This approach has the potential to accelerate the up-skilling of community teachers in rural and remote areas of Indonesia, to ensure that the future generation has an equal start, no matter where they are born.