It was only 06:30 in the morning, an hour before the school day started in SD YPK Pikere of Dusun Ujung Karang, a remote village in Kabupaten Keerom, Papua. Two women, Ibu Susi and Ibu Eta, housewives in their 40s and late 20s respectively, were walking toward the school building. Ibu Susi was holding a big thermos filled with hot tea in one hand and a bag filled with nasi kuning and other snacks on another hand. She was the regular keeper of the school’s little canteen. The two women started setting up a table outside the ‘Teacher Room’. While Ibu Susi sorted out her snacks and thermos on one side of the table, Ibu Eta pulled out a large teacher logbook, together with a pen, and placed them in front of her as she sat down next to Ibu Susi. This logbook is used to record the time every teacher in SD YPK Pikere arrives and leaves the school.
What was concerning in this early-morning-before-school preparation scene was that neither teacher nor principal, was anywhere in sight. Only at 7:55 am, which is 25 minutes after class was scheduled to start, did the principal and one, out of the four teachers in school, showed up. Ibu Eta and Ibu Susi looked straight at the principal and the teacher—an unspoken command for them to report to the two women. Ibu Susi wrote the exact time of their arrival in the logbook as the two school figures signed to the recorded time. The remaining three teachers arrived over an hour later that morning. Their tardiness was then recorded at its precise time by Ibu Susi. This picture describes the daily close monitoring of teacher’s attendance by community members in SD YPK Pikere.
Ibu Susi, a parent and User Committee member recording teacher's arrival time in SD YPK Pikere
Teacher absenteeism is major problem in many schools of remote areas of Indonesia. And parents and community members of students in this school do not have the necessary support to fix this problem. For this reason, Kinerja dan Akuntabilitas Guru (KIAT Guru) is working to build community members’ capacity to uphold teachers accountable for their service performance as well as acting on other duties to support students’ learning.
SD YPK Pikere is one of the study’s participating schools, which was randomly assigned to the ‘D’ intervention group whereby teachers’ quality of service will be graded monthly by the community. Grading will be based on a Community Score Card that was collaboratively developed by both school and community members, to include: (1) teacher to arrive in school at 07:30 from Monday to Saturday, (2) teacher to give homework to students 3 times a week, (3) teacher to have regular communication with parents, and (4) teacher to not hit, yell or pinch their students. The amount of teacher’s incentive will be paid based on the score that s/he receives from the community.
Aside to teacher monitoring, parents and community also need to do their parts to improve their children learning. This includes the following responsibilities: (1) to help teachers uphold their duties, (2) to help children studying at home, (3) to prepare their children to go to school (e.g. feeding them breakfast, bathing them), and (4) to bring their children to school and arrive at 07:30 a.m.
The teachers, however, are still uneasy about the community’s involvement. Ibu Eta was involved in a ‘feud’ with two teachers who left class earlier than scheduled and yet refused to have their departing time recorded as it was. As she was unpleasantly taunted, Ibu Eta responded, “…you think I want to do this? I have other things to do at home. But this is for our kids’ good…”
Nevertheless, due to User Committee’s persistence, SD YPK Pikere has been going through several changes and improvements, as observed by community members and KIAT Guru team. Ibu Susi and other community members claimed that although some teachers continue to arrive later and/ or leave earlier than the scheduled time, they have more presence in school than prior to KIAT Guru’s involvement. For instance, principal who used to only be in school on Monday is now in school at least 3 days a week. Teachers who plan to not come to school school the next day(s) report to the community and give reason to their planned off day. Additionally, when teachers use corporal punishment on their students, community members have more courage to confront these teachers.
Ibu Eta (middle) and Ibu Susi (right) accompanied by a parent (left): User Committee members on duty in SD YPK Pikere
Parents and community members are now working together to make sure students are brought to school and arrive on time. PT Rajawali, a palm oil corporation working in the village, is now lending their company car to pick up students who live far from school or in other villages to bring them from and to school.
The story of Ibu Susi, Ibu Eta and others of Dusun Ujung Karang and their commitment to work together with teachers to ensure quality of education service in SD YPK Pikere is just a small example that indicates the importance and benefit of community involvement in keeping the school accountable and ensuring students are receiving the education they deserve.