Human Rights
Nurturing Equality Early in PAUD Inklusi

Inclusive Preschool

© Photo by Lucas Alexander on Unsplash

Nurturing Equality Early in PAUD Inklusi

Monday (29/03), in a 7x5-meter classroom of Pendidikan Anak Usia Dini (PAUD)[1] Inklusi in Ringinlarik, Musuk, Boyolali, was filled with laughter from children. Not only children with disabilities who can study in this school. Looking at four students in the classroom, two of them are non-disability children. The total number of students in this school is not that huge, only ten students.

“Miss, please sit together with the children later. That way, you can understand how is the learning process here,” said Miss Nani when we first met that day.

This is an inclusive school established by Ms. Nani in 2015. The intention was simple. It’s to give children with disabilities and special needs access to education according to what they needed. It is also for these children to be able to play normally with their friends.

Miss Nani grew up with a physical disability and used to feel ‘isolated’ inside her own house. This is also one of the reasons why she is excluded from society. She did not have the chance to get a formal education, often hidden by her family, and have difficulties in making friends.

“For 21 years, I was ‘isolated’ inside my own house, and later I brace myself to get out from this prison, it felt great,” said this forty-five years old woman.

According to Miss Nani, the reason why children with special needs have difficulties going to special or inclusive schools is that their age is too old. Usually, they are too old to get into primary school. This happens, according to Bu Nani, because usually, the parents are too ashamed of having a child with special need. Another reason is that children with special needs are required to have a special assistant teacher and some schools did not provide that.

“I often see children getting rejected by schools, even that school is an inclusive school. In special need schools, they are rejected due to their age that is too old for the grade level they intend to join. In inclusive schools, they get rejected because of the unavailability of special assistant teachers, therefore we make our own school for all types of special needs children, and all ages. We are helping them to continue their education.”

She continued, the reason why it is hard for disabled children to get access to education is not solely because it is hard for them to get accepted. Another reason is that the families are too embarrassed to show their special needs children to the people. Moreover, Miss Nani said that one of the things that should be fixed is the people’s mindset that assumes people with disabilities should be hidden, deserves to be abused, and deserves to be shunned.

When she was asked about the example of disabled children that experience difficulties in getting a formal education, she directly uses her experience as an example. “The case that could be the example of this is me. I did not get a formal education, like the primary, middle, or high school, at all. Furthermore, when I was little, I used to join my older siblings when they were studying with the other kids, but my father scolded me,” she said.

Miss Nani says that there are still some people who have a mindset that disability is a sin and therefore should be shunned. Not only a sin, but people also often mistook the family who has a member with disabilities got some kind of curse.

“There are people who see a person with a disability as something that should be hidden, and even avoid. Surprisingly, there are people who mistook the perception of disability person, like the family who has a member with a disability got a curse,” she said.

Miss Nani also expresses that people with disabilities are often identified as beggars in the street. She believes that this happens because people with disabilities are having difficulty in getting accepted in any education, thus they are vulnerable to poverty and makes it hard for them to cut the poverty chain.

“People used to consider us (people with disabilities) as beggars because we are jobless. Why can’t we have a job? Because we didn’t get access to education. Why didn’t we have access to education? Because the schools are not provided with disability tools, no special teachers. Then, why the parents did not want them to go to school? Because they are ashamed,” she said.

When she built this school, Miss Nani hopes by opening this PAUD Inklusi, the mindset about people with disabilities are beggars is slowly changing. She believes that the key to change that kind of mindset and cutting the poverty chain is by allowing people with disabilities to have access to education.

 

[1] In Indonesia, Pendidikan Anak Usia Dini (PAUD) is equivalent to preschool or early childhood education.

“I do not want children with disabilities to experience difficulties in school, making friends, and playing. Like I used to.”

Nani, founder of PAUD Inklusi

Having Students with Disability and Non-Disability in the Same Classroom

This school that Miss Nani established is not only reserved for children with disabilities, but also for those who don’t. This is because there are interactions expected that naturally happen from one child to another. Familiarize children to play together will familiarize them with the mindset that people with disabilities around them are not supposed to be ignored.

“We are trying to tell them that, they (people with disabilities) are also your friends, only they have a slight difference with you. That way, later when these children become an adult, they already understand, and they will accept them. When these children with disability become an adult, they also can be accepted by the society. That is my hope,” Miss Nani said.

Even though students with disabilities and those who don’t are studying in the same class, Nani explained that there is still a slight difference in the teaching techniques. The difference is only in the amount of time they study, usually, students with disabilities are given special time, before or after learning together. This special time is used to teach and communicate intensively with students with disabilities.

For Miss Nani, the most important point in students with the disability learning process is the self-ability. These things can be found in activities like how they can take care of themselves, starting from wearing their own clothes and going to the bathroom. “They have to be taught, what do you need if you want to go to the bathroom? There are water, towel, gayung[2], toothpaste, and other things. For students with non-disability, they do not have to be taught anymore, reminding is enough for them.”

Apart from educating the children, PAUD Inklusi also gives classes to upgrade the skill of children with disability companions, like their parents or guardian. These classes are knitting, sewing, patchwork, and other skills. This is done at the same time as the children so that the parents or guardians also gain new skills and expertise.

“At the same time, they are also learning what is needed by the children with disability, so they understand more on what is a disability,” Miss Nani said.

Furthermore, Miss Nani explains that the goal of this technique, having students with disability and non-disability in the same classroom, is to also gather the parents. She hopes that doing this can improve the confidence of the parents who have children with disabilities. According to Miss Nani, when these parents gather together, then they can brace each other.

“Yet, the parents of children with non-disability can recognize the hardships that parents who have children with disability experience. They can understand one another,” Miss Nani adds.

 

[2] A tool that most Indonesians use to scoop water from the water bucket.

Children Are Not the Only One Who Learns

 Miss Nani and I went to Sri Mulyani’s house by a black three-wheel motorcycle, which has already been modified so the driver seat is wide enough for a wheelchair to fit. The house is modest, with grey concrete and brown bricks for its wall. There are also avocado trees and cassava plants in the yard beside the house.

Sri’s grandson, Dimas[3], is a special needs child with autism. Dimas is studying in PAUD Inklusi since 2019. That day, Dimas was sitting while playing. Not far from where he sits, his younger sister was learning how to walk.

Sri is looking after Dimas because both of his parents are working from morning until afternoon. After his parents coming home from work, they will look after Dimas for the rest of the day. As she keeps looking after her grandchildren, Sri started to talk about how Dimas first join PAUD Inklusi.

“I enrolled Dimas in that school (PAUD Inklusi) because my grandson is special, the teachers are also special so it is better for him to go there compared to another school. The teachers are friendly and I like how they teach the kids,” Sri said.

Now that Dimas is studying at PAUD, Dimas started to show a lot of significant changes and improvements in communicating with others. According to Sri, Dimas is no longer afraid to meet and interact with other people, even he just met the person for the first time. While we are talking, Dimas went inside the house and greet us with a smile.

“He used to cry whenever he met someone new. Now it still happens occasionally, but he is only crying and not rejecting. (Dimas usually) asks to sit on my lap. Now he is smiling often, he used to cry all the time.,” tell Sri to us.

When we were asking about the negative treatment that Dimas’ family got from society because of his condition, Sri said that they can’t avoid that. However, she chooses to ignore, for her, the most important thing to do is to raise Dimas.

“In the society, there is always the negative thing, but for me, I choose to ignore the negativity, I’m just focusing on taking care of Dimas. My intention is only that (taking care of Dimas) and tries to ignore what the society thinks,” said Sri firmly.

Nani further tells us that not only special needs children that are taught for further education. The guardian and parents also learn a lot on how to communicate with the special needs. Sri said that there are few things to do at home if special needs children are in worry and continuously crying. They are also taught what to do to make the children feel calm and safe. Other than that, Sri also learning other skills in PAUD Inklusi, such as knitting.

“So, you can massage here (head), here (back) and then hug, you learn everything here,” she said as she demonstrates the massage to herself.

 

[3] Pseudonym, not their real name.

Hopes for Inclusive Education in Boyolali

In an article written by Septhia Rianti in solopos.com on 30th March 2013, Boyolali already has a law that regulates inclusive education or education for special needs children and special services. The regulation is written under Peraturan Bupati (Perbup) No.54/2012 about Special Education and Education for Special Services. However, how does this law implemented after 9 years since it is first legalized?

In 2013, The head of Forum Komunikasi Guru Pembimbing Khusus bagi ABK[4] that time, Susilo Setiastuti, said that in 2005, there are 36 inclusive school. Then in 2012 becomes 80 schools, with 75 of schools are in primary level, 3 in secondary, and 2 in high school.

To find the most updated data about the condition and inclusive education plan in Boyolali, the reporter has contacted the Office of Education and Culture of Boyolali to do some interview, however until this article is published, the reporter has not got the answer and comments from them.

Apart from the data, Miss Nani hopes that the government pays more attention to sustainable education for special needs children not only at an early age but also until higher education.

“Education for special need children is not only PAUD. Education for them should not be limited to early age education. I want a sustainable program to be made,” Miss Nani said.

This is in line with what Miss Nani hopes. For her, she hopes that when her grandson is already a grown-up, they can live by himself and have several skills to take care of himself. In order to achieve this, according to Sri, it is important to have an education that is more accessible for special needs children like her grandson. Therefore, Sri thinks that what she can do for now is to take care of her grandson the best she can according to what he needs.

“He is my grandson. And I have already been given the trust by God to take care of children with autism, our patience, mental, and all are being tested. Whatever happens, I will keep taking care of my grandson,” she said.

Besides the educational system that is accessible and fulfilling the needs of the children, Miss Nani also hopes that society becomes more open and accepting. Giving equal chance and access, and not shunned the special needs.

“I also hope that the special need children can be served well in terms of education, health, social, and else. Also, I hope that the people can accept them as they are,” said Bu Nani as she closed this conversation.

 

[4] Forum Komunikasi Guru Pembimbing Khusus bagi ABK is a forum created for teachers who become the adviser for special needs children to interact and share knowledge with each other in order to widen their expertise.

 

Written by Nimatul Faizah. Translated to Bahasa Indonesia by Adinda Rahma Putri (FNF Indonesia Intern)

This article is written as a part of Student Press Workshop and Story Grant program held by Serikat Jurnalis untuk Keberagaman (SEJUK) in collaboration with Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit (FNF) and Indonesia’s Ministry of Law and Human Rights.