It was almost 7.30 a.m. and the principal and the teachers at Mboeng Elementary School (SDN Mboeng) in remote Kaju Wangi Village, Elar Subdistrict in Manggarai Timur, East Nusa Tenggara, took turns to take each other’s photograph with a cellular phone.
They were not about to update their social media’s profile pictures. Instead, the photo session was part of KIAT Guru Pilot to improve education service delivery in remote villages by empowering communities and tying payment of the remote area allowance with either teacher presence or teacher service quality.
The pilot is a collaboration between the Ministry of Education and Culture, the National Team for Acceleration of Poverty Reduction (TNP2K), and five district governments with disadvantaged villages, including Manggarai Timur. It is implemented by Yayasan BaKTI, with technical support from the World Bank and funding from the Government of Australia and USAID.
Teacher’s attendance was an issue in this village, as some of them often only showed up at 9 a.m., or 90 minutes after the class was supposed to start, if they came at all. An unannounced visit in SDN Mboeng on October 31, 2016 showed that one in six or 17 percent of teachers who were scheduled to teach were absent. The reason for their absence was to attend a training in a neighboring subdistrict. This figure is consistent with The World Bank baseline survey of 270 KIAT Guru schools that indicated the rate of teacher absenteeism was at 25.4 percent. An earlier survey by Analytical and Capacity Development Partnership (ACDP) in 2014 indicated that the rate of absenteeism among teachers in remote school (19.3 percent) is double the national rate (9.4 percent).
Since April 2017, SDN Mboeng has carried out one of three KIAT Guru intervention model, where the remote area allowance of eligible teachers is paid based on their attendance in school, as verified by community representatives. The principal and teachers have to clock in before 7.30 a.m. and clock out after 12.30 p.m. using KIAT Kamera, an android-based camera application. At the end of every month, the community representatives check if teacher’s absenteeism is excused, and evaluate teacher’s service performance using community scorecards. This model worked wonders in reducing the rate of teacher’s absenteeism and late attendance.
“Starting from April 2017, none of the teacher was late. And it trickles down to the students. Seeing their teachers disciplined, the children are now in order, too. They have better manner and they rarely come late anymore even though many of them have to walk for 30 minutes to one hour to get to school,” said Andreas Jemahang, KIAT Guru cadre whose son also studies at the elementary school.
Along with the Education User Committee (Kelompok Pengguna Layanan, KPL), which includes nine members comprising parents and community figures, Andreas evaluates teachers’ attendance and service performance based on a set of service indicators or “promises” that were agreed between teachers and community members beforehand. Based on the recommendations from children, whom KIAT Guru team consulted at the beginning of implementation, the promises range from coming to school on time, to not using corporal punishment on children and being more creative in teaching, such as using visual aids and holding classes outdoor.
As teachers improved, students had too, as shown by a baseline student learning assessment and a diagnostic test in Bahasa Indonesia and mathematics.
“The baseline student learning assessment was conducted in September 2016 and it showed how six 3rd graders did not fare well in reading. In June 2017, there was a diagnostic test on these students and the results were exhilarating. The six can now read well, two of them met the basic standard for second grade, two fit the third grade standards and one even passed the fourth grade standard,” said Karolina Lantu, 3rd Grade homeroom teacher.
Sabina Rantos, a sixth grader at the school, said she liked it that now teachers conduct classes outside, such as for science class.
“It’s more fun,” said Sabina, who have to walk two hours every day to go to school and from school.