Mudik Lebaran

Pada hari kedua Idul Fitri tahun 2008, saya dan keluarga keluar rumah sekitar pukul 5 pagi. Hari ini dipilih dengan harapan bahwa perjalanan kami ke Yogya akan lancar dan menyenangkan. Baru saja kami melewati tol cikampek km 34, arus lalin sudah tersendat. Ini terjadi karena ada penyempitan jalan.

Setelah agak bersusah payah menembus kepadatan arus, akhirnya kami dapat melenggang dengan tenang sampai ke Bandung. Sayangnya, lima kilometer menjelang gerbang tol Cileunyi kendaraan benar-benar macet total. Jarak lima kilo ditempuh lebih dari 1 jam setengah. Sialnya lagi, ketika akan masuk Nagrek jalan masuk ditutup Polisi dan diarahkan untuk lewat Cijapati Garut Tasik dan seterusnya. Jalan alternatif yang diharapkan dapat memperlancar perjalanan justru memperlambat, karena kenyataannya jam 6 sore saja kami baru sampai di Garut. Dengan terpaksa perjalanan dihentikan dulu sampai di Kota Banjar karena kami sudah kelelahan.

What qualities should preschool teachers have?

Steve Bauer ,  Contributor ,  Jakarta   |  Sun, 09/14/2008 9:59 AM  |  Supplement

When most new teachers first enter a classroom, they are faced with a terrifying realization: they have the capacity to impact, shape and affect their students’ lives forever.

This is certainly true no matter what age group a teacher receives; however, it is even a greater truth for a teacher working in preschool classrooms because this is the time the first impressions regarding the educational process are experienced by children.

For parents, the critical aspects they should consider as the third party in their child’s education are — does my child feel comfortable in the classroom? Is my child accepted as an individual, and, is the teacher sensitive to my child’s needs? What parents are hoping for, and deserve to receive from any school and any teacher is the same thing: the bond, the bridge, the connection between the home and the school.

These three questions can be addressed objectively to some degree. First, parents should look for a classroom environment that is safe, hygienic, and secure because the classroom will eventually be the place where a child spends almost as much time as at home. Safety, security and health issues are largely the responsibility of the school’s management and operating systems. The teacher, however, is responsible for creating an environment where learning, exploration and opportunities for experimentation and discovery occur naturally and in an enjoyable manner. In preschools, one of the best approaches a teacher can take, in the opinion of most experts is to set up the classroom so the children have fun.

Obviously, if the parent opens the door to a classroom and sees only row upon row of desks, with identical photocopied worksheets decorating the walls, they should realize that their child may only be occupied with “busy” work in a regimented, controlled atmosphere that may, in fact, hinder creativity and self-expression. On the other hand, plentiful, age appropriate materials, well within the reach of little hands should attract inquisitive minds and encourage the child’s imagination and enthusiasm for exploration with the necessary comfort he or she needs.

In order to create a bond between the school and the child, each teacher truly needs to understand, and provide attention to each child they encounter. The teacher is the point person to assess the child’s individual needs, personality and rate of development. Reputable schools provide ample opportunities for teachers to document their students’ individual strengths and weaknesses. In the preschool environment, academic progress should be a separate issue (if it is considered at all) because the children are just reaching the stage of development where learning begins. Parents and teachers need to allow the child sufficient time to develop the appropriate physical, emotional and social skills without “comparison assessments” of academics. They should speak at least every three to four months with the teacher regarding the child’s progress.

A similar factor related to the individual child’s needs is whether or not the teacher is sensitive to the preschooler’s personality that is in its formative stages. Once again, parents will make a judgment based on their initial interaction with the teacher. Parents should carefully observe the teacher’s body language, tone of voice, warmth and personality. This is important because preschool children will only learn when they are in a trusting environment. Good teachers and good parents make an effort to get to know one another during the first days of school, and if possible, the school should allow both the child and parent to visit the classroom “after hours” to ensure an easy adjustment period for the child.

Most adults can reflect on their earliest school days and recall a favorite teacher: The one who made us welcome, who dried our tears, comforted us when we had minor bumps or bruises and gave us our first understanding of right and wrong in school. Of course, we had an emotional bond with that precious instructor; if parents can remember that special feeling, they should also be able to identify the one thing every teacher must share with every child – the ability to love.

The writer is Operations Manager of Tutor Time International Preschool & Kindergarten.

Who cares about the fate of teachers?


The Jakarta Post ,  Jakarta   |  Sat, 09/22/2007 3:08 PM  |  Opinion

Abdullah Yazid, Malang, East Java

Almost everyone recognizes teachers as the most important human resource element in education. At the same time, people acknowledge teachers do not receive descent pay for the service they provide. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that discussions about teachers always concern the low level of their welfare.

If we were to ask any of today’s generation of students, we could hardly find any of them who aspire to become a teacher. It is as if the profession had lost its pride. The “”big earning”” professions, such as business and law, are much more sought after. Poor income and lack of respect are among the reasons why teaching is not a favorite profession, compared with what it was in the past. This is not to mention the minimal attention paid to these “”heroes without medals””.

Those facts only explain how Indonesians perceive the teaching profession very differently from in neighboring countries, such as Malaysia and Japan, where the profession is very well respected and very much influential. The public and the governments there rank teachers higher than other professionals.

In Indonesia, teachers no longer enjoy economic (income and welfare), political (bargaining position) or social (public appreciation) value. It is understandable therefore that the quality of our education ranks among the poorest in the region.

This situation is exacerbated by the low budget allocated for education from year to year. Almost one-third of the annual budget is used to pay debts or interest, instead of education spending. Everybody knows the education sector is a major investment that requires a huge budget, especially to meet the needs of teachers and students.

As of 2006, there are at least 2.6 million teachers working in elementary, junior high and high schools across Indonesia (Kompas, Nov. 17, 2006).

Despite their lack of appreciation, teachers bear a heavy responsibility. They are expected to be capable of playing a role as both trainers and motivators. Teachers are also required to facilitate solutions for various life issues, seek breakthroughs, initiate change and exercise conscience in conducting their professional duties.

Despite the limitations placed on them, teachers must posses adequate knowledge, a high level of personal integrity and pedagogic skills so that students can depend on them. On top of that, teachers have to be able to create a pleasant, healthy and conducive educational environment.

An educator really takes on a difficult job. He or she is expected to sacrifice their after-school hours to help filter information beneficial to their students. It comes as no surprise Ilbert Highert once said that teaching is an art. Pedagogy demands expertise, skill, intelligence and creativity from teachers. One of the supporting factors toward success in this noble profession is sincere dedication.

Unfortunately, up to now the policy-makers have not shown any appreciation for this dedication. As a result many teachers have opted to moonlight. They teach at different schools day and night or seek side-jobs for extra income to feed their families.

How can we expect a quality education if teachers have to struggle to survive?

There are many teachers who perform unsatisfactorily to the point of being unprofessional.

The national education system has introduced a teacher certification program in a bid to boost the competence of educators. This systemic approach aims to see no more schools employing high school graduates or non-teacher institute graduates as teachers. The teachers will have to go back to the classroom to get the appropriate diplomas or certification in order to ensure their teaching proficiency.

For that purpose, the government has increased the education budget.

Teachers are the key to the sustainability of efforts toward improving the quality of the nation in the face of future challenges.

But the policy-makers cannot leave teachers unprotected. The welfare of teachers is the responsibility of the state. Articles on teachers’ protection and welfare in the 2004 law on national education must be translated into concrete action.

The writer is an Averroes Press editor and founder of the alternative education Civil Society School in Malang. He can be reached at