The Indonesian Teachers Association (PGRI) has told its members to do away with conventional teaching methods and develop new teaching paradigms allowing for more active student participation.
PGRI's representative for international affairs, Unifah Rosyidi, told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of an international seminar in Jakarta on Monday that it was high time Indonesia's teachers answered to the new demands and challenges of developments in education.
"Education in the old days placed teachers in the center, but today, the learners, or students, are the center. Today, education is not just a matter of transfering knowledge, rather it is more about facilitating the students to get better, and to actualize themselves," she said.
Monday's seminar on developing a child-friendly school invited hundreds of teachers and lecturers from schools and universities from all over the country. Teachers from countries such as China, Egypt and Zambia also attended the event to share their experiences.
Unifah said efforts to disseminate information on students' rights and conducive learning environments had been made over the years through seminars and training workshops.
"Changing teachers' teaching paradigm is a long process. We need to continuously sensitize our teachers to how education has developed and how it brings new demands and challenges," she added.
Lund University of Sweden and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency have been training teachers from various countries in developing child-friendly schools.
Bodil Rasmusson from the university said during the seminar that such schools were the ones encouraging students' participation.
An example of students' participation, he said, was the establishment of child rights clubs where children had the opportunities to express themselves in many different ways - through poems, drawings, or festivals that involve the whole school and community.
"There are also examples of children being involved in the creation of new school rules. We have also seen many examples of improved relationships between students and teachers in the classroom," he said.
Unifah said to improve students' participation in the classroom, teachers needed to establish a teaching method that was meaningful, fun, creative and inspiring for the students.
"Also, they need to design the curriculum so that it could be flexible enough to allow creativity in the teaching process," she told the Post.
Rasmusson said developing a child-friendly school also required a provision of children's rights.
"We also have examples *of the provisions of child's rights* in opportunities provided to pregnant teenagers to return to school after delivery," he said.
Unifah highlighted that it was important to establish inclusive education in the country. "It is the right of every child to get quality education without being discriminated *against*," she said. (adh)