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I. COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM: BUILDING A COMPREHENSIVE MODEL OF CHARACTER EDUCATION FOR PRESCHOOL CHILDREN IN POOR COMMUNITY - SEMAI BENIH BANGSA (SBB-PLANTING THE NATION'S SEED)

An important foundation for children involves the development of character traits which includes in 9 pillars of character. Character development training should begin early in a child's life and be an on-going process. According to a long-term child development study (conducted by University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand) which follows 1000 children into adulthood, shows that by three years old, it is possible to predict the adult he or she will become. Uncontrolled and unruly toddlers are far more likely to have antisocial problems and end up in trouble with the law. Timid toddlers end up as shy adults and well-adjusted three year olds stay well adjusted in adulthood. This study suggests that programs to curb anti-social behavior need to start with preschoolers.

School is a cultural organization that could support children's development in human virtues. Many studies reveal that children, who have attended preschool equipped with explicit social emotional learning program, reveal better performance in their academic skills, social and emotional skills, creativity, initiative, and motivation to study (Zins et. al., 2001). At kindergarten, children are also expected to promote confidence, independence, and a sense of identity.

Only a few of Indonesia's children get access to kindergarten. Recent data from the Ministry of National Education reveals that only 2.13 million of the 12.23 million children aged between 4 and six years experience the kindergarten. Other data shows even lower; only 12 percent of Indonesian children attend kindergarten. This low of attendance is partly due to the non-existent of affordable kindergartens, especially for children living in poverty, as well as the lack of kindergartens in small cities and remote areas, where most of the country's populations live. Early enrollment to the primary school as young as five years old is a common practice of poor children who cannot attend the preschool. This practice could make children shocked by the dramatic change and can lead to a sense of inferiority.

People used to think that setting up kindergartens are so expensive; like building the classes, preparing teachers, finding curriculum and methods, and providing other facilities, so most of the time we just drop the idea. The lack of kindergarten in Indonesia is partly due to this view. While it could be true that high quality kindergartens are expensive to build, however, it is not necessarily true if we just focus on the essence of kindergarten, which is quality activities that could create joyful learning experience for children; not the building, hardware, or formal institution.

IHF could help build a comprehensive model of character-building alternative kindergarten, which is called Semai Benih Bangsa (SBB-Planting the Nation's Seeds). SBB targets children age four to six in poor families, thus providing them with kindergartens at minimal cost.

The SBB model offers systems or curricula, educational formats, methods, which give young children a high level of educational process that can stimulate their academic and motor skills, as well as social, emotional and character development. The method of character education is an on-going process of knowing the good, loving the good, and acting the good. The method is also designed to enhance children's communication abilities and creativity through student active learning, cooperative learning, and contextual learning.

The SBB model is designed to be community initiatives. The schools are supposed to be owned, run and supported by the community. They are designed in this manner to provide the community responsibility for the education of their children. This way, education and character development become important to the entire community.

We therefore invite interested parties to adopt the SBB model in their communities. SBB model could also be a part of Community Development Program of corporations or business communities See proposal (English or Indonesian language)


II. PACKETS FOR CURRICULUM IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMS FOR REGULAR SCHOOLS

A. 9PILLAR CHARACTER EDUCATION FOR KINDERGARTEN AND PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN

IHF provides ready-to-use materials to help educators to promote character education in their schools (from kindergarten to 6th grade). This manual is designed to be implemented for only 15 minutes a day before the class begins.

The materials are organized around a 2-3 weekly pillar themes. Each pillar theme contains a variety of practical resources for educators that focus on circular method of "knowing the good", "feeling the good", and "acting the good".

We call this method as "daily reflection or apperception" à Every morning the children are asked to reflect for twenty minutes on the current pillar of instruction. This time for reflection gives the children time to verbally express their knowledge, love for, and how they have acted the pillar.

The 9pillar character themes are as follows:

1. Reverence and love God and all God's creations
2. Responsibility, self-discipline, and self-reliance
3. Trustworthiness, reliability, and honesty
4. Respect and courtesy
5. Love, caring, empathy, charitable, and team work
6. Confidence, creativity, resourcefulness, courage, determination, and enthusiasm
7. Justice, fairness, and leadership
8. Kindness, friendliness, humility, and modesty
9. Tolerance, flexibility, peacefulness, and unity

In addition to the above 9pillar character themes, IHF provides materials for teaching children cleanliness, healthiness, neatness, and safety (K4).

The manual is equipped with more than 100 story books related to each particular pillar. There are also 10 books of character display and working sheets with colorful pictures for children.
The manual also provides ready-to-go letters, recommended activities for parents at home and questionnaires for parents. Using this method, it is expected that parents would get involved in fostering and developing children's good character.

To implement this packet, IHF provides a 1-day in-house training program for educators.

-àinsert pictures (book covers)


B. 9 PILLAR CHARACTER-BASED INTEGRATED CURRICULUM FOR KINDERGARTEN AND PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN

Your school could integrate 9pillar character building program into academic objectives (from kindergarten to 6th grade).

IHF has integrated the 9pillar character education and skills into the national curriculum academic objectives in addition to academic goals, most objectives now also have specific character objectives. Because character education is not a separate subject but rather connects to all aspects of life. This curriculum incorporates government's life skill program (broad-based education project). All modules include a variety of interdisciplinary activities to integrate into academic areas.

This ready-to-use curriculum will now help all educators implement character education throughout the school year.

Each aspect of the curriculum is applied using "Active Learning" approach, developmentally appropriate practices, and contextual learning, which all together could create joyful and productive learning experience.

The curriculum designed corresponds nicely with the newly launched Life Skill educational efforts under the government's Broad Based Education Project. Up to now, there are 45 themes for preschoolers (2 years worth of thematic modules), and 26 themes for elementary school children (from grade 1 to grade 6) available.

To implement this packet, IHF provides a 2-day training program for educators, including practical strategies to help educators integrate 9Pillar into all subject areas.

à insert book covers

C. COMPREHENSIVE CHARACTER EDUCATION PROGRAM
(A AND B COMBINED)

Although schools could adopt either packet A or B, but implementing both A and B will be more effective in developing children's character skills, academic skills, critical thinking, and problem solving. This comprehensive program is intended to balance heart, head, and hand of children (holistic education), so that they will become independent creative thinkers, responsible, and free individuals.

To implement this program, a 2-day training is needed.

For those who are interested to adopt packet A, B, or C, could look at the proposal paket ABC in bahasa Indonesia (PDF Format)

copyright 2004 Indonesia Heritage Foundation