The headmasterís first impression was very negative when he was appointed to the school as the new headmaster in 1996. He had just passed a headmaster qualification test and had received training for school management, teacher and staff empowerment, facility development, and also parent and student empowerment. This school had been a part of the city school until 1994/1995 and the headmaster of the parent school had paid little attention to this facility. The new headmaster spent one month assessing the school needs and developing plans before assuming his new post. After discussions with teachers, staff and BP3, the development plan was established as follows: stabilize the teaching/learning process, improve administration, improve and maximize the use of facilities, and ask parents to participate in developing the school.
Many of the improvements at this school have occurred since the present headmaster arrived. For example, the number of classrooms was increased from 4 to 10, a basketball field and a mushola were also added. Teachers are very supportive and positive about the changes. Teachers are more motivated to teaching and motivating students to study and prepare for university. Teacher meetings are held three times a cawu during which programs, teacher activities and teacher problems are evaluated. Student achievements both in academic and non-academic areas have improved. Students are more disciplined and less fighting occurs among them. Parents are also supportive especially in the financial aspect. They can provide input to school development in meetings with the headmaster or to teachers and also on an informal basis. The community provides moral support as well, but has limited financial resources.
The headmaster believes that the major factors for these changes are the combination of the several different aspects of change. First, the environment is a rural area located outside the city where by there are fewer distractions for the students. He noted that students in the city tend to fight, but since there are no other schools in this area, it is not a problem. Secondly, by providing good management, the school has been able to address problems more effectively. Thirdly, the programs implemented have been very successful. This is in partly due to the fact that teachers and the headmaster evaluate each program carefully as to its benefits before implementation. Beneficial programs are continued while those that are not, are discarded early.
The aspirations of the headmaster are ambitious but most likely achievable. Some of his desires are as follows:
There has been significant physical development within the school. The original four classrooms were expanded to a total of ten. A computer lab was introduced to provide students with skills for both university life and local industry. Student activities have been increased and a new basketball court was added. To support student religious development, a mushola was built. To improve the grounds, a solid wall was built around the perimeter. The bushes and high grass were trimmed. New furniture was purchased to supply the new classrooms.
More classrooms are needed to meet the growing demand by the increasing numbers desiring to enter the school and to eliminate the double shift. The science lab is currently perceived as not for practice but for demonstration. They need to improve the library resources through the addition of more books and newspapers. Since there is no canteen on the campus, students sometimes slip away at lunchtime. It would be very helpful to have a canteen. Some buildings have roves that need repairs. Finally, there is need to improve the water supply as none exists right now.
The headmaster has improved the communication capacity of the school whereby teachers, parents and students have more opportunities to express their concerns and opinions regarding school development. One area that the headmaster would like to further improve is communications between the head of the BP3 and the parents. By allowing teachers to be more creative in the classrooms, he has created a very positive atmosphere. Teachers feel more responsible for the actual instruction that occurs in the classrooms.
Another concern of the headmaster is teacher welfare. The need for extra hours of teaching is discussed with the teachers. These responsibilities are divided among the teachers and supported by BP3 funds. All teachers receive some extra funding, but for those teachers who introduce new programs that are beneficial, the headmaster provides bonuses.
Many of the teachers are young and all came from central Java. They believed that the training from the IKIP Yogyakarta was an excellent program and prepared them well professionally. The lack of teaching positions in central Java caused them to consider west Java as an alternative place to teach. The youthfulness and idealistic perceptions that the young teachers brought to the school added significantly to the adaptive nature of the school to address a changing environment.
The new headmaster supported teacher initiative in addressing the instructional problems and together they identified strategies to resolve these. The teachersí active involvement in problem solving provided great motivation for them. There is a sense of real commitment to the profession and to helping students learn. In formal meetings, the headmaster, administration staff and teachers meet at least three times a cawu to review the implementation of the programs from the last meeting as well as to address new programs. Decisions are made either to continue beneficial programs or to cease them.
A shortage of teachers has created a situation whereby some teachers have extended teaching hours from a typical 18 hours for a S1 degree to as many as 49 hours a week. For the extra hours of instruction, teachers are supported with additional funds approved by the headmaster and funded by BP3. The extended hours for teaching are necessary to support a double shift. Also because of the shortage of teachers, temporary staff are hired for instruction. These are totally funded by the BP3. Teachers not providing extended hours of instruction are possibly holding a second teaching appointment at another school. Although teachers receive extra funding, it is minimal which suggests that teachers really have a strong commitment to support student learning.
When the school was separated from the city school and the new headmaster was appointed, there was a commitment to improve teacher discipline. Since then, teachers have displayed more self-discipline especially in coming to school on time. In general, teachers are very positive and interested in helping students. There are some concerns, however, in that there is a mismatch between teacher backgrounds and what they teach especially in Maths and Science. This together with the shortage of full time teachers places much stress on both teachers and BP3 funds.
To help support students, teachers are encouraged to talk to students about problems that they are having. If necessary, the teachers invite the parents to the school to discuss any concerns regarding the students. The important aspect here is that the teachers themselves work to resolve the problems instead of ignoring them or passing the problems on the headmaster. This appears to be supported by both teachers and parents.
Historically, the area was a rubber plantation and the children were not expected to pursue a university education. With the introduction of housing developments in the area, affluent families have been sending their children to the school. This has changed the environment from a rural setting to a mixed community. The children from the affluent families are better prepared to pursue university study and are encouraged by the parents to do so. The increase in the number of students going to university is apparently due to the change in demographics and not necessarily because the quality of teaching which has improved drastically. This, however, has encouraged the children of rural families to consider university as an option whereas in the past this is not true.
The development of industrial facilities in that area has also increased interest in graduating from SMU. The graduates of SMU can obtain well paid positions at the local industries. Ironically, the graduates working in these facilities often earn more income than the teachers do. This has obviously increased studentsí interest in pursuing a SMU qualification.
Under the leadership of the new headmaster, student discipline has been increased. Students attend school on time and are more motivated to learn. The influx of affluent students has also motivated student interest and there is much more respect for education in general. Students are also encouraged to pursue their religious beliefs. One example is that the students were given the responsibility to raise funds for building a mushola. Funds could have been appropriated through the BP3 to build the mushola, but the headmaster wanted to teach the students to be responsible Muslims and citizens. The students also voluntarily collect funds and commodities for the community during the religious holidays.
The quality of teaching as experienced by the students appears to be better than their experiences in JSE. Students feel that the teachers provide a better understanding of the content to be studied, are better organized and have genuine interest in their learning the subject matter. However, Maths and Science instruction seems to be an issue.
One interesting development is the attraction of students from other districts. Applications for admission have increased significantly from outside the district. The community has raised a concern that the children locally would not be able to attend the school. The headmaster and teachers have agreed to accept all students who live in Tiga Raksa regardless of JSE NEM while requiring students from other districts to meet certain admission criteria. This increasing demand has only encouraged the school to further expand the schoolís facilities.
The small community for which the school was initially created is very encouraged by the governmentís commitment to providing SMU education for their children. As one village leader commented, the community would have been left behind if it wasnít for the development of the school. With the changing demographics, the school serves as a bridge between the different social classes and economic development in the area. Therefore, the community supports the changes occurring at the school. The cooperation between teachers, parents and the community has improved over the last 3 years.
Parents are very happy with the progress of the school as its quality has improved significantly over the last 3 years. Before the parents had to send their children away to the city for a good education. Now the children can attend a school locally, thus saving transportation cost and avoiding the problems in the city schools. The parentsí perception toward education has changed positively and they now tend to encourage their children to continue education onto SMU and if possible to university. As noted before, the changing demographics have influenced these perceptions due to the demand of SMU graduates in the industrial complexes and the influx of the affluent families.
The headmaster works cooperatively with the head of the BP3 in trying to improve the quality of the school. The headmaster makes recommendations to the head of the BP3 who then selects activities for school development. All recommendations are communicated to the parents by letter and comments and recommendations are returned to the school via the students. This is a new development to improve communication with parents and to make them feel more involved. One current problem is that the head of the BP3 lives in the city making his participation limited. It is more desirable for the head of BP3 to be more available and to help monitor school development.
The BP3 plays a very important role in that it not only develops the facilities at the school, but also provides funds to support the additional teaching demands. Of the 26 teachers employed at the school a majority of them work extended hours funded by the BP3. Additionally, BP3 helps support poor families by providing scholarships for about 30% of the students. Due to krismon, the donations from parents have declined during the last two years. Fortunately, the influx of the affluent families to the community has resulted in some additional resources.
Factors influencing change
Tiga Raksa SMU represents a unique situation in that it is a new school that developed during the time of great demographic changes in the environment. The efforts of the headmaster combined with the concerns of the community leaders and the influx of the young enthusiastic teachers supported the rapid development of the school. The problem solving approach that the headmaster brought to the school enabled it to adapt to the changing environment. The support from parents, local government and the community provided the impetus for addressing development needs. It is this type of cooperative effort that enabled Tiga Raksa SMU to improve the quality of its programs and to expand its facilities to meet the studentsí needs for their education. The strong interest by the headmaster and teachers in meeting this need is exemplary of the type of characteristics of developing schools.
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