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(Phillip Rekdale)

September 9th, 1999

MAN 1 is a religious school situated in Jember, about a 3 1/2 hour drive east of Surabaya, East Java. These photos of relaxed, happy, smiling students may look fairly typical of any school in Indonesia however, this is where the resemblence ends.

The first stop on our tour of the school was at the computer laboratory. The computers were all being used at the time we arrived. I came back after the classes had finished to take the photos so that the arrangement of the room could be more clearly seen. The organization of the room is excellent. I would like to see all computer (and language) laboratories set up in this multi-modal format. Students can quickly and easily move from the computer-lab configuration to a normal classroom mode.

The dressmaking/ fashion (busana) department very proudly display the products of their students.

This is the dressmaking/ fashion (busana) training room. Again, the room was a beehive of activity when we arrived but I took these photos after class when the students had gone home. During the class I was able to talk to the students and the atmosphere was certainly very positive and the students clearly believed that what they were learning was very important to them (related to their needs). I asked whether they thought that the extra-curricular studies placed too much of a burdon upon their study time and the answer was a definite "no". They said that the programs at the school were very well balanced.

The school organizes fashion parades and sells clothing and other items (such as cushions, etc.) directly and also to order. This feature of the program is a key factor in its sustainability and further development.

This is the electronics training teachers room, storeroom, and workshop - very professional.

And, in the two photos above you can see the electronics skills training classroom. Again, this department also brings in outside funds by promoting their services and selling products that the students make. It was quite exciting to see many of the trainers and other equipment that they had because much of it was from the era when I was studying electronics. Regardless of its age it still has the potential to provide very relevant training and skills and the students were extremely enthusiastic about the training they are receiving.

The photos above show the automotive mechanics training area/ workshop in which the students study both large and small engines. The department brings in work from the public to provide both relevant training (field based) and also to raise income for the department. When the automotive skills training commenced in 1987 the students used to repair and maintain the local police motor bikes for their practical experience. In the photo on the right (above the vehicle hoist) you can see the theory training area.

The photo on the left shows the vehicle entrance and service area adjoining the mechanics workshop (viewed from inside the workshop). The photo on the right shows the entry from outside the school (public street). In the same building to the right (in the photo on the right) you can see the school's cooperative. From here the school sells many of its student products directly to the public. The school's mechanical workshop and cooperative have been very strategically placed so as maximize the opportunity to work together with, to serve, and to benefit from the local community.

What can be learned from this example?

There are two key development issues that need to be identified, and are replicable in other SMUs anywhere in Indonesia.

Clearly from the photographs this school has received much financial assistance and guidance (actually from the UNDP in 1987) and I can well imagine the reaction of many teachers in some of the small SMUs in the outlying provinces to this example - tidak mungkin di sekolah kami (it's not possible at our school). I often get this reaction to even small programs and changes that I suggest to teachers. Schools and programs like this are beyond their imagination, and as long as they stay beyond their imagination, it isn't possible.

We need to look beyond the large workshops, training areas, and expensive equipment and let our imaginations begin to bloom. If the workshop was an unused classroom or an old shed that some community member donated for school use, and the facilities were very basic (perhaps brought in by the students), would these programs be any less amazing? Answer, no, perhaps more amazing! Well, why then are they so different to the programs in most SMUs?

The programs introduced at MAN 1 were programs which were identified as those best addressing the local community needs at that time. These same programs may not be very appropriate in a village school in North Kalimantan or East Sulawesi. However, based upon the success of these programs, the first issue we can identify (lesson to be learned) as important which emerges from MAN 1 Jember is that schools need to identify and effectively begin to address local community needs.

The initial funding for many of the facilities and special programs at MAN 1 came from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). However, I have seen many schools receive large grants for new buildings and facilities which have not yielded any long-term sustainable outcomes and often do not even significantly raise the quality of education within the school. Why are the programs at Man 1 Jember different? This is the second issue that we can identify and is easily replicable in any school, they work together with the whole community (not just the BP3). Their programs benefit the community and the school benifits from the community's support.

I suggest that you look at these four examples of other schools; SMUN Tiga Raksa, SMUN 23 Bandung, SMUN 2 Wonosari, and SMUN 1 Mojoagung ( Examples ) to see how they have implemented these types of community needs based extra-curricular programs. They have started to maximize community and local school human resources and develop affective and effective programs for school development without large capital inputs.

There are a number of other significant factors which make MAN 1 Jember very different to most SMUNs.

  • Besides the four extra-curricular skills options; automotive, electronics, computers, and fashion, that you have seen in the photographs they also offer farming.

  • Exrtra-curricular programs include 1,080 hours of training (18 hours per week for 2 years).

  • Official (Depnaka) certificates are awarded to graduates of extra-curricular studies.

  • They are a religious school but only one (1) class engages in a specific religious program (Islam)

  • The students in the religious stream have to stay in the school's boarding house because of the need for evening programs.

  • They utilize their MGMP to select key areas of the national curriculum for focus in the classroom. A large amount of study is done by the students at home and then tested in the school (making the students responsible for their learning)

  • The school engages very actively in programs for securing self-funding.

In gereral MAN 1 in Jember is an excellent example of school self-management or school based management (SBM). MAN 1 like many other schools has recognized the need for skills training in SMUs, regardless of official changes in curriculum, and they have maintained their pre-1994 Curriculum programs to the benefit of both their students and their community.

Ref: SSEP (1999)