IWitnessing the significance of Early Childhood Development projects in Indonesia

After months of excitement, meticulous planning and long flights we finally were in Indonesia. Indonesia was bit like home coming for me as the traffic, weather, hustle bustle of the town and the way of life were similar to Nepal, the country of my origin. I especially enjoyed the euphoric atmosphere of the 18th Asian Games 2018. Indonesia was hosting the Asian Games for the first time in 56 years and so it was a moment of pride for each Indonesian.

We had a fixed and well-planned schedule during the four days of our stay in Indonesia. During these four days, we had opportunities to visit several kindergartens and interact with the project officials, kindergarten teachers, children and their parents. In addition, we were also able to observe the activities of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) project of UNICEF, which is funded by the IKEA Foundation.

Debrief of ECD projects at the Ministry of Education. Photo by Devendra Adhikari.

One of the ECD project sights was a government-run “model kindergarten” in Bogor district, which focuses on holistic and integrative early childhood development services incorporating health, nutrition, stimulation and protection of children. The government of Indonesia is planning to launch prototypes of this model kindergarten in other districts of Indonesia.

Model kindergarten. Photo by Devendra Adhikari.
Children performing a traditional dance. Photo by Devendra Adhikari.

Another project sight was a kindergarten named Bina Putra 3, in a rural area of Bogor district, where we were able spend most of our day interacting with teachers, children and their parents.

Children, teachers and parents welcomed us with happy faces and melodious singing. Photo by Devendra Adhikari.
Kindergarten Bina Putra 3. Photo by Devendra Adhikari.

According to the teachers and parents, rural Indonesia has lots of limitations regarding kindergartens. There is a shortage of trained teachers, teaching materials, essentials facilities like toilets, washrooms and proper playgrounds. However, after the launch of the UNICEF project funded by the IKEA Foundation, things have changed. The kids in the kindergarten have now access to proper toilet and water facilities. Teachers have also learned the importance of the “learning through play” method of teaching. According to the teachers, the training has also taught them to be more organised, use the materials from the local surroundings and, most of all, be patient with the children during teaching sessions.

Teachers’ training session. Photo by Devendra Adhikari.
Kids washing their hands after a field activity in the kindergarten. Photo by Devendra Adhikari.

The parents in the kindergarten were extremely pleased with the project outcomes. According to one of the parents, this project has not only provided a proper early childhood development opportunity for their children but has also provided them with an opportunity to learn more about basic hygiene and sanitation.

Amazingly creative and talented kids: learning through doing it themselves. Photo by Devendra Adhikari.

One of the key sights was Nurul Hidayatul Hikmah kindergarten in the sub-district of Bogor, where we had an opportunity to observe a parenting education session. The main purpose of the session was to teach the parents how to raise and nurture their children.

Parenting session. Photo by Devendra Adhikari.

While interacting with the mothers, one mother stated that: “Prior to these educational sessions, the parents of the village only had theoretical knowledge of parenting. Receiving lessons with the ‘learning by doing’ approach has been extremely helpful for all mothers and families involved. We have now learnt how to take care and stimulate our children during different growing up stages.”

She was truly grateful to UNICEF and the IKEA Foundation for providing them with such trainings. She hopes receiving such workshops and training in the future will ensure their children can have a full and healthy life that they rightfully deserve.

Sri Rahayu, a mother of two, expressing her feelings of the project outcomes. Photo by Devendra Adhikari.

Overall, the IWitness trip was a tremendously optimistic, eye-opening and educating experience. In addition, it was a rewarding feeling to be able to observe the impacts of the IKEA Foundation funding and excellent work carried out by UNICEF in bringing about positive changes in people’s lives in Indonesia.

The most important learning of the trip was to value small things such as toilets and washing facilities that we normally take for granted, as these simple facilities can be considered as a real luxury for a lot of the people in this world. Another key learning was to realise the importance of ECD projects in rural areas of Indonesia, necessary resources for them and the role we can play in contributing to their purpose. On that note, I concluded my IWitness trip with this thought: I am a proud employee of a company that contributes to and is part of communities that are in need. Therefore, the real goal of what we are doing is to have a positive impact on the people and planet.