Both PTFI’s national elementary schools in the Highlands and Lowlands have earned accreditation by the Primary Years Program, an internationally recognized education program ideally suited for 21st-century Indonesian students.
An educational framework that encourages students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners, the Primary Years Program was developed by the Geneva-based International Baccalaureate Organization.
“For Indonesia, it’s a very eloquent way of teaching and learning with a values component built in, so it’s character education as well as academics,” said Mark Jenkins, Head of Freeport-McMoRan Schools. “It’s about valuing things like being balanced in your life, being honest, and having empathy.”
Tembagapura Primary School earned its accreditation from the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (PYP) last year, while Kuala Kencana Elementary School earned the status in 2015.
Schools seeking accreditation undergo a rigorous and lengthy process to prove they will uphold the standards of the program, a process that can often take several years.
“It’s quite a journey and involves a lot of recruitment, training and capacity building, which includes training teachers,” Jenkins said.
Unlike traditional education, PYP teachers act not as teachers but rather as facilitators who guide students in their own self-directed learning.
“The students come to their own learning through inquiry and self-discovery, and are able to shape and frame it with their own cultural context,” Jenkins said. “The PYP also has what they call the approaches to learning that include self-management skills, communications skills, social skills, research skills, and thinking skills. Those are 21st century skills.”
The Primary Years Program – there are IB programs for students from age 3 to 19 – focuses on teaching students to think critically and independently, and how to inquire with care and logic.
“Another important aspect is that the essence of the program is to develop International-mindedness,” Jenkins said. “The key point is for the students to look at the world from more than just one point of view, which allows students to look through with their own national perspectives, but also get an idea of where we are in the world.”
The appreciation of and different cultural perspectives was a major selling point for Bayu Cahyo Widyatmoko, Tembagapura Primary School Principal.
“Given the nature of our diverse student population, a curriculum that is inclusive and respective of different cultures and perspectives is a valuable aspect of the IB program,” Widyatmoko said.
Jenkins said when Kuala Kencana first rolled out the IB program, some parents were apprehensive about its non-traditional nature, but were won over after watching students present their projects.
“When the parents came to the student-led conferencing and saw the passion, eloquence and confidence of the kids in sharing their learning, it just won them over,” Jenkins said.
Members of the Indonesian Ministry of Education have visited the Kuala Kencana school to experience the program for itself.
"The interesting thing is that we’ve taken the traditional PYP framework and embedded it with the national curriculum that was adopted by the Indonesian government in 2013, so we’ve embedded those curriculum goals into the program, “ Jenkins said. “So, here we are in the jungle and mountains, and we’re kind of a golden nugget for Indonesian education, a model of what education can be.”
An Exhibition in Tembagapura Proves What Students Received
At the end of the school year, fifth grade students of YPJ Elementary held an IB-PYP exhibition that displayed the students projects in written and visual depictions such as photography, dance, graffiti, murals, sculptures, music, and electrical circuit.
“In this exhibition, students presented their projects to the community. They will do follow-up actions to complete their project,” Bayu explained.
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