An all-girls team from PPS had flown to Jakarta, Indonesia, as volunteers to help train teachers there over three days. The team consisted of Eileen, our Head of English Curriculum, Tracy, our Senior Quality Assurance Specialist, along with Ramona, Centre Leader of Bukit Batok Centre. You may think it was a breeze for them since our Curriculum Team and Centre Leaders are very in touch with teaching material and interacting with educators on the ground. However, it was far from the truth –preparing the training programme was a challenging and daunting task.
The whole operation started when Ms Kanniga, our Head of Care and Development in PPS, who works closely with Singapore International Foundation to provide training to educators and caregivers, approached Eileen about conducting this training.
Initially, when Eileen wanted to kick off the planning, she was quite at a loss on how to frame the training since she was clueless on the culture in Jakarta and profile of the teachers. Thus, she set up a meeting with an Indonesian counterpart to understand them better, and also gave the teachers a pre-workshop assignment. This way, the Singapore team could gauge the ability and mindsets of the teachers before shaping the workshop in a way that would be most beneficial for them.
As the Indonesian ministry of education had recently released a new education framework, the team studied it so that they could help the teachers in Indonesia to unpack the purpose of why they changed the framework, as well as to align it to their current way of doing things. Tracy, Ramona and Eileen all worked together during preparation to ensure that the training would be effective for the teachers. Eileen also reminded her co-presenters that they were there to share and learn alongside the teachers, and to avoid the perspective that the team is more knowledgeable than them.
Eileen had learned to adopt this humble attitude during her personal missions work in Cambodia - she is the founder of Elpis Centre which advocates for early childhood education and works closely with schools there. You can support Elpis’ ongoing work here: https://www.theelpiscentre.com or at @theelpiscentre.
During her trips to Cambodia, she realised that she had much more to learn regarding early education, as what works in Singapore may not work there. For example, children in Singapore get overstimulated when the environment is too colourful, thus most furnitures are in muted tones. It is the opposite in Cambodia; children live in villages where their surroundings are typically in shades of brown and green only, thus they need colour in their school environment to be interested and engaged in learning. Eileen shared, “From then on, I became sensitive to the need to contextualise my knowledge to the culture in order to understand what the teachers need on the ground.”
The theme of the workshops conducted in Jakarta was “Observation and Assessment". The three ladies took turns to share about things like lessons plans, tools for observation, and learning stories as a pedagogical documentation. They were thrilled to see that the educators from Jakarta were very enthusiastic and prepared –they even brought along concrete items such as buckets of soil for role-play.
“I am deeply humbled by the participants’ learning attitudes and thirst for knowledge. Their enthusiasm, resourcefulness and boldness to ask questions are values that I wish to impart to my own teachers." - Ramona
The workshops were well-received and participants were very thankful. Upon reflecting, Tracy shared, “I hope that more educators in Singapore, including our Centre Leaders, can be exposed to such eye-opening volunteering experiences.
“I am deeply humbled by the participants’ learning attitudes and thirst for knowledge. Their enthusiasm, resourcefulness and boldness to ask questions are values that I wish to impart to my own teachers. If possible, I would be happy to host the participants in my centre to conduct a cross cultural exchange program for my teachers to learn from the Indonesian teachers as well,” shared Ramona.
It is our desire that PPS can continue to connect with educators internationally to share and learn from each other!