With the melting pot of culture dominating today’s era of globalization, PSKD Mandiri has been striving to create an Indonesian school model that enables students to learn how to both live and cope with complexity and diversity.
“We inculcate our students with a high-value international education approach without having to overlook the national curriculum standard,” says PSKD Mandiri executive director Tya Adhitama.
“The school adapts the national curriculum as our students learn and discover more about Indonesia and develop a sense of nationalism and identity, but at the same time they are exposed to international ways of thinking that help build their confidence by interacting with peers from multicultural backgrounds,” she said recently.
Tya explained further that the school offers an integrated learning approach that allows students to develop their holistic understanding of learning and real-life experiences, and unearth their potential as inquirers, thinkers, communicators and risk takers.
“Our students will need these essential skills to make a transition to step into an independent adult life,” she said.
PSKD Mandiri was established in 1994 and is financed by the Mandiri Association (Perkumpulan Mandiri) school board under the umbrella of the Association of Christian Schools in Jakarta (PSKD). “Mandiri” literally means independent.
Offering classes from early childhood, kindergarten, primary to junior and senior high school, PSKD Mandiri aims to develop a sustainable and efficient model of teaching and learning approaches that can be replicated at other non-profit and state schools in the archipelago, she said.
PSKD Mandiri was recently appointed by the Education Ministry to host a meeting of principals from 35 state and private primary schools in the Menteng area. The supervisors for primary schools, religious studies and the division head for primary and middle schools from the ministry consider PSKD Mandiri a model for national schools of international standard.
The best way of teaching is by giving an example and the role of teachers is thus very significant in both delivering the knowledge and being a role model to students. “For that reason, we host educators from overseas like the U.S. and Australia to share their expertise and pedagogy with our teachers here,” Tya said. “Also we regularly hold Weekly Teachers’ Workshops as a means of upgrading their skills and competencies.”
According to her, a good school should conduct two-way interactive learning and teaching approach in every class. She cites PSKD Mandiri as a fun interactive learning atmosphere where students actively develop their self-awareness, teamwork, interpersonal skills, problem solving, critical and creative thinking.
“They just enjoy their class sessions as much as taking part in various extracurricular activities such music, IT/computers, dance, badminton, indoor soccer, swimming, photography, cooking, etc.”
She said a good school should be able to design an effective learning approach, not only to prepare but also predict the future of its students. “As an old quote goes, the best way to predict your future is to create it.”
PSKD Mandiri’s student-centered approach, for example, provides Personal Development Classes to senior students from grades 10 to 12, in which the students are equipped with the knowledge that can be useful for their future life such as preparation for studying abroad, time management, keeping a journal and writing a CV.
The two-way interactive approach implanted in PSKD Mandiri also caters to developing programs for children with learning difficulties.
PSKD Mandiri is known as one of the few schools having programs for children with special needs such as those with dyslexia and autism.
While dyslexic children often find the acquisition of their reading and writing skills difficult, those with autism have problems with social interaction and communication. In spite of the fact that an autistic person is usually dyslexic, it is not necessary the other way around.
“Despite their learning impediment, however, we have programs specifically designed to help unearth their potentials since they are actually given the gifts commonly not possessed by normal children,” Herda JT. Pradsmadji, the school’s educational support director, said.
Even though dyslexic and autistic children in general have problems in language literacy, they are good at visual literacy, Herda explained, adding that such gifted children have the potential to become visual and conceptual thinkers since they possess outstanding talent in recognizing objects in their surroundings.
By Aulia Rachmat, published in The Jakarta Post, May 2, 2008.