Muhammad Ferdinan Alhabi (5), a boy from Sikasur Village, Belik Sub-district, Pemalang District, Central Java, was beaming with joy. Accompanied by his parents, Anisa Fitri Utami (25) and Januar (28), Muhammad was busy studying in the living room of his house. His mother was patiently tutoring Muhammad in the basic lessons he studied at school.
Muhammad looks like any other child his age in most aspects, but the way he communicates with his mother is different. If most kids tend to either obey their parents or disregard them entirely and do whatever they want, Muhammad often asks his mother critical questions before he does something.
Likewise, Anisa also involves Muhammad before deciding on something, be it choosing items or when facing a problem while accompanying his son doing his homework. This communication happened because the school where Muhammad studied at TK ABA 2 Sikasur applied a holistic learning method. This method not only encourages children to develop according to their age, but it also cultivates character values that hopefully can help shape the attitude/behaviour of its students in their daily lives.
From the school, Anisa and Muhammad learned and received a holistic service that included education, nutrition and health services, as well as nurturing and protection to optimize all aspects of child growth and development. Anisa experiences firsthand that the holistic conditioning implemented in her child’s school taught her to be aware of the importance of accompanying her child thoroughly to fulfil his rights.
The Holistic Integrative Early Childhood Education and Development (PAUD-HI) method does not only include methods of learning to read but also the fulfillment of children's rights for the future.
“Previously, I only knew that in school, you’re studying. However, thanks to the implementation of holistic-integrative early childhood education and development program (Pendidikan Anak Usia Dini Holistik Integratif/PAUD-HI) at my child’s school, now I understand that the fulfilment of a child’s rights is not merely about teaching them to read, but also about many other important aspects for their future,” said Anisa.
Anisa also recounted how implementing PAUD-HI changed her parenting style. “I became aware that basic education should be more than just educating as in the past, and that it has to integrate all moral, ethical, religious, philosophical, as well as social aspects and values to fulfil the essential needs of the children,” she explained.
This led to Anisa involving her child in everything, which also entailed not forcing her will on him. This way, Anisa hopes that her only child can grow to be an intelligent person with a good personality.
Indeed, TK ABA 2 Sikasur where Muhammad studies, is one of the six pilot sites for implementing PAUD-HI in Pemalang District. Implementing PAUD HI method was influenced by previous activities related to the improvement of basic service governance, which includes education. It aims to ensure that children aged 3 to 6 can access quality education services.
The trial implementation of PAUD-HI method is one phase in strengthening multi-party support for early childhood education programs in the village, which was initiated by the Pemalang Regional Planning Agency (Bappeda) and Education Agency (Dinas Pendidikan) along with KOMPAK in 2019. As the first step, KOMPAK mapped out and explored educational issues, including early childhood education programs, in the village. This process was carried out by observing the gap between villages in increasing the Gross Enrolment Rate (Angka Partisipasi Kasar/APK) of early childhood education programs and technical support for its service, which still has room for improvement in Pemalang District.
Based on the strategic planning and policy direction in the Regional Medium-Term Development Plan (Rencana Jangka Panjang Menengah Daerah/RPJMD) of Pekalongan District, it was found that the APK of early childhood education in Pemalang District was still relatively low at 56.68% (2013). Another issue found was the lack of coordination and integration between Regional Apparatus Organisation (Organisasi Perangkat Daerah/OPD) related to early childhood education and development program organisation, as each of them tended to work by themselves while each sector was only focused on their own main tasks and functions. Besides, budgetary support from district and village governments has not been sufficient due to the low priority of early childhood education and development program.
The partnership between KOMPAK and Pemalang District Government also resulted in several regulations such as District Head Regulation Number 64 of 2019 on PAUD HI and Decision Letter of District Head Number 422 of 2019 on the Establishment of PAUD-HI Task Force. According to the Head of early childhood education and development program Section, Regional Education Agency of Pemalang District, Indra Sulistiyono, the facilitation helped the district government to improve the service quality of holistic-integrative early childhood education units. “Thanks to KOMPAK facilitation, the strengthened regulation aspect has finally encouraged the role of multiple sectors in improving the quality of holistic-integrative early childhood education and development program services and the institution itself,” he said.
Indra explained that owing to this facilitation, the local government has allocated a budget through the Regional Budget (Anggaran Pemerintah Belanja Daerah/APBD), as well as provided technical guidance through training for teachers and teaching staff of the unit on implementing early childhood education unit method in accordance with the prevailing policy.
“Budget for numerous activities have been allocated by several OPDs that are integrated to support the implementation of PAUD HI, such as the Social Agency for child protection, the Health Agency for children development monitoring, and the Population and Civil Registry Agency to provide civil registration service in the form of Birth Certificate and Child Identity Card (Kartu Identitas Anak/KIA). The Education Agency also held a capacity building program for PAUD-HI implementation. The numerous aspects taught include motor skills, religion, ethics, and arts, and our task is to ensure that all of these have been covered by the early childhood education and development program service,” he said.
Thanks to the inter-OPD collaboration to support PAUD HI, Pemalang District early childhood education and development program received the Child-Friendly District award for the intermediate level in July 2021. One of the indicators for this award is in implementing PAUD-HI.
Under the PAUD-HI program, parents are increasingly aware of their important role in mentoring which does not only concern the education side, but also the children's basic needs, health and growth also development.
Regional Action Plan (Rencana Aksi Daerah/RAD) of PAUD HI in Pemalang District
According to data from Pemalang Education Agency, the APK of early childhood education in Pemalang District in 2020 was 75%, which increased from only over 68% in 2017. This achievement came because of the multi-sector effort through PAUD-HI Task Force, organised by the Pemalang District Government. In addition to facilitating the enactment of District Regulation and establishment of PAUD-HI Task Force, KOMPAK’s assistance for Pemalang District Government also resulted in the preparation of RAD of PAUD-HI in Pemalang District 2020–2024 as the basis for PAUD HI implementation.
Head of Education Subdivision, Human and Community Development Division (Pembangunan Manusia dan Masyarakat/PMM), Regional Planning Agency of Pemalang District, Dwi Puji Astuti, stated that in the RAD of PAUD HI, there is a multi-sector coordination, implementation, and monitoring mechanism to support PAUD-HI. The goals of this multi-sector work are described in the integrated work plan of PAUD-HI Task Force, which can be found in each early childhood education and development program pilot. The six pilot sites in the Belik Sub-district are KB Arroyan in Gombong Village, KB Al Ikhlas in Badak Village, TK ABA 2 in Sikasur Village, TK Qurrota Ayyun in Beluk Village, RA Muslimat Salafiyah in Bulakan Village, and TK Pertiwi in Gunung Jaya Village, with average attendance rate of over 50 students.
“Through the synergy that we built with KOMPAK; we have succeeded in a better implementation of PAUD HI. We were also supported by the budget allocated for its implementation, which led to the RAD of PAUD-HI in which every OPD is tasked to guide the implementation of PAUD-HI,” he explained.
According to Dwi, in addition to ensuring that the achievement indicators for each member of PAUD HI task force as stipulated in the RAD have been fulfilled, the support from KOMPAK also drove OPD to allocate its budget for PAUD HI implementation. For instance, District Education Agency allocated around 4 billion rupiah, while the Health Agency allocated hundreds of million rupiah to support activities in the early childhood education units for a holistic learning approach. “Population and Civil Registration Agency also supported the civil registration of children. Thanks to this PAUD HI program, there’s a proactive approach for children to have birth certificates,” he said.
Dwi added that through the program, parents’ understanding of the children’s basic needs, as well as the importance of their health and development, has also been improved.
Fulfilment of Child Development Principles
One of the OPDs active in making the PAUD HI implementation successful was the Health Agency of Pemalang District, which is a member of the PAUD-HI Task Force. They held capacity building activities related to Stimulation, Detection, and Early Intervention of Child Growth and Development (Stimulasi Deteksi Intervensi Dini Tumbuh Kembang/SDIDTK), not only for health workers but also for teachers in the early childhood education unit. The Health Agency also partnered with the Community Health Center (Puskesmas) to provide the service in the early childhood education and development program unit to provide education on healthcare to fulfil children’s need for health services as well as child growth and development monitoring.
Susi Kusumawati, Nutrition Analyst in the Community Health Division, Health Agency of Pemalang District, hoped that with such education and assistance from health workers, teachers could monitor their students’ growth and development. “For example, if there is a student with growth and development issue, the teachers can evaluate the kid’s nutritional status based on the table outlined in the Ministry of Health Regulation Number 2 of 2020 on Child Anthropometry Standard, as well as information in the KIA (Kesehatan Ibu dan Anak/Mother and Child) book,” she explained.
In addition to SDIDTK activities, the Health Agency along with the Woman Empowerment and Child Protection Agency also educated early childhood education and development program teachers about the four principles of child rights, namely non-discrimination, prioritising the best interests of the child, the right to survival and development, and the right to participation.
Susi has high hopes that the multi-sector support through the members of PAUD-HI Task Force in early childhood education and development program units of Pemalang District can be continued and equally distributed, because implementing PAUD-HI method that is supported by various parties will have an impact on the children’s future. “This is obviously different to the early childhood education and development program method in the past, which only treated children as is without involving them or giving them the understanding,” she added.