Support for Mother Tongue Based, Multi-Lingual Education (MTBMLE) for Schools in Rural and Remote Areas of Papua

From late 2012 until mid-2014 ACDP provided support for Rural and Remote Area Education Strategic Planning for Tanah Papua, the strategic objective of which was to identify promising and sustainable strategies to improve education access and quality for children between the ages of 6 and 15 years living in rural and remote areas of Tanah Papua (the provinces of Papua and West Papua). Assistance focused on technical support to assist with strategic planning for the improvement of the provision of basic education in rural and remote areas. Support was provided in cooperation with the Summer Institute of Linguistics International (SIL), Cendrawasih State University (UNCEN) and the State University of Papua (UNIPA).

The development of the Strategic Planning Study was highly consultative, with extensive discussions at both province and national levels. The role of SIL, who were able to draw on their 40 years of extensive work on mapping language communities in Papua and in interacting with rural and remote communities, was critical. The programme provided a catalyst for sharing the 2 work on language and school mapping as well as knowledge of Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE).

The Draft Strategic Planning Study was shared and discussed with the provincial Dinas, Bappeda, the Governor’s office and other government officials. Extensive use was made of the recommendations in drafting the RPJMD, RENSTRA and RENJA 2014. ACDP was therefore able to inform the strategic options under consideration by the Papuan government and to ensure that they were evidenced-based. The Governor has emphasised the need to target the underserved indigenous communities in the rural and remote areas of Papua focussing in 15 districts in line with the DSP. In particular, he has called for the redesigning of education at the community level (kampung) to develop both formal and non-formal schools for the provision of an “integrative education” more suitable for the needs of the children and communities. Significant local and national media coverage has emphasized a number of key issues presented in the Draft Strategy, for example, the issues of teaching mother-tongue (in the context of Papua having over 275 languages) in early childhood education (PAUD)and early grades of elementary school as well as in the preparation and development of teachers.

The Strategic Planning Study emphasizes community-driven development, the importance of creating community ownership/demand for education, and the compelling evidence in favour of mother tongue based multi-lingual instruction in the early grades. The document outlines six interrelated “drivers” for education reform in Tanah Papua: (i) Dialoguing with the community and creating a “community compact”; (ii) Mother Tongue Based Multi-Lingual Education; (iii) Teacher Training Reform (KPGs); (iv) Use of ICT; (v) Development of Rural and Remote Community School models; and (vi) Capacity Building and Improvement of Governance Structures (see Figure 1).

The Strategic Planning Study was developed in Papua through multiple workshops and stakeholder representation. The Secretary of the Planning Board (Bappeda) in Papua had urged ACDP to focus the study on the regions with the lowest ranking in the Human Development Index (HDI)1 ACDP had been requested to provide a draft Strategic Plan to coincide with the 5- Year Strategic Plan (RENSTRA) conducted by the provincial and district Office of education and culture, the Action Plan/Annual Plan and Budget (Rencana Kerja/RENJA) planning process, and the Governor’s 5-Year Plan (RPJMD 20013-2018). The First Draft of the Strategic Planning Study was officially presented in a workshop in Jayapura in July 2013 and was well-received by the provincial government. The major issues presented (corresponding to the six “drivers” in Figure 1 above) were incorporated in many of these planning documents. In addition, during this time (July 2013) the Provincial government also drafted Provincial Government Regulations that also incorporated many of the “drivers” in the Strategic Planning Study.