Table of Contents

2007 Jan • Indonesia Peace Team, Jakarta

January 23, 2007

I left early in the morning for Jakarta. I rested for the day. I was exhausted. I felt badly because the next morning when I called Ibu Wismi I found out she was on her way to the airport to fly to Padang, so I was not able to meet with her. I did go over to Al-Falah School the following day and spent the day observing the school and collecting references for Jav. I was finally able to get through to the Natural Materials (Messy) Play Center teacher. I walked through his center after he was all set up and pointed out to him how he had older children in the center. There were plenty of play spaces to choose from, but their social development was higher, so they wanted to work in groups. A couple of the group spaces had activities that were so developmentally low that the children playing in the did not play in groups, but in singles or parallel. Therefore there were only two stations the kids could choose from. All the other spaces were empty and the kids were all huddled around two spaces. He lit up and said he could see what I was saying. We have been telling him this for years, but he finally got it. We will see next time I go if he really understood or not and could integrate it into his behavior.

I met with Pak Andreas Wednesday evening at the airport. He was on his way to Papua. We talked about the SHEEP staff and the office in East Aceh. He gives great attention to the gradual development of each of his staff members. He is very interested in my comments about brain development and what he can realistically expect and what he can’t. It also led him to say how before he was not interested in education, but the longer he works on community development issues, the more he ends up coming back to questions of educational development. He asked a lot of questions about the early childhood development work we are doing.

He has been asked to assist a foundation in Jogjakarta that has 63 schools. His son goes to one of these schools. He said, “But Nadine, they have all gone to the U.S. and to Europe and been educated there. What’s the difference?” I understood immediately. I told him I wondered the same thing when Wismi and I began to establish Al-Falah School. I imagined the problem was that everything was here, there just wasn’t the experience of how to put it together and make it run. Like having all the parts to a car in a pile in the middle of the road and saying, “Tell me what we don’t have! It’s all here.” “Yes, but it’s not really a car if you don’t put it together so it can run down the road!”

After working on Al-Falah just a short time, I realized that there is another problem. Universities teach theory, but there is a tremendous amount of development in the U.S. and Europe that use but is not the same as the universities and theory. There are the teacher associations, publishers, and materials suppliers. These other actors do a great deal of research and development in their own areas. This research is available to teachers through their products, journals, conferences and so forth. This R&D in practice comes around to inform the theory taught in the universities, but they do not stand alone. In Indonesia people do not support their associations, publishers and materials suppliers. Government, especially the Ministry of National Education, is too corrupt to support a real technical assistance capacity. They are not supporting the translation, printing and distribution of books. They are not ensuring the availability of educational materials. After twelve years of trying to develop a supplier of preschool blocks and beads and laces, and successes at times, I still cannot purchase them in Indonesia right now. Indonesia not only has to build better schools, they have to build associations, publishers and materials suppliers and a culture of honesty that wants to and will support them. He was extremely interested.

I spent the next day resting, writing, packing and going to the airport. I did get to meet with Pak Indra. He was replaced as the head of the National Coordinating Office for Disaster Relief by a Two-Star General and his crew, but they forgot to decommission his position, so he still has his position, but without any responsibility. He still goes to the office, but it is very laid back. If he does not have a position in February, he will automatically retire at 56 years old.