School leadership in one important puzzle piece in ensuring quality education. With only 2 percent of teachers rated their principals as a competent motivator, 5 percent rated them as academically competent, and 8 percent as competent leaders according to the latest nationwide survey by ACDP in 2013, the challenge is definitely real to transform the state of Indonesia’s principals into competent leaders of around 217,000 schools across the archipelago.
With that mind, around 30 leaders and experts of diverse background such as education activists, academics, business, think-tanks, and public sector, gathered in the Roundtable Discussion organized by the Asia Philanthropy Circle (APC) on January 16th , to discuss how to kick-start an initiative that takes on the challenge. Among the participants were Tanoto Foundation, Djarum Foundation, Triputra, SMERU, JPAL SEA, YCAB, Indonesia Mengajar, Kampus guru Cikal, Save The Children, the National Team for the Acceleration of Poverty Reduction (TNP2K) and many others.
The initiative itself is called “INSPIRASI”, a short for Initiatif Kepemimpinan Pendidikan untuk Raih Prestasi (Education Leadership Initiative for Student Achievement), which is also a direct recommendation from the 2017’s APC Education Giving Guide, Catalysing Productive Livelihood. As its first project, INSPIRASI will pilot a continuous professional development program for principals in 2019.
Several themes of ideas emerges from the discussion. Participants identified more space of opportunities and iddeas forward for a non-government initiative such as INSPIRASI to address the issue of school leadership, on top of providing merely quality training program. For example, SMERU Research Institute and TNP2K’s KIAT Guru program suggested introducing performance-based incentive and parent participation to boost principal performance and accountability. Others, such as Ruangguru which already implemented technology-based intervention to support professional development of teachers, reckoned that similar innovation can also be trialed with principals.
In piloting new intervention ideas, however, as noted by Elan Satriawan from TNP2K, the initiative should take into account the current government policy to ensure alignment, such as existing Continuous Professional Development (CPD) program by the Ministry of Education and Culture, and the principal deployment which is often influenced by local political. Moreover, Santoso from the Worldbank and Totok Soefianto from Paramadina University noted that the INSPIRASI’s Theory of Change and participant selection process were critical elements in program design. It defines specific leadership competency that it seeks to strengthen. The program could also include other relevant stakeholders such as fellow teachers and supervisors to promote effective peer-learning.
Scale and public awareness were also among the issues surfaced in the Roundtables. Victor Hartono, the Chair of APC Indonesia Chapter, explained that to scale up, INSPIRASI should not overlook the private sector potentials. The participants also pointed out that school leaders may not be well-understood by the general public, which calls for a public awareness campaign. To do this, Lina Marliani from JPAL SEA emphasized the importance of what works in this field, while public speaker Renee Suhardono suggested the numerous creative popular media campaign such as Youtube video series, that INSPIRASI could try.
The Roundtable concluded that further collaboration would follow, not just to support the INSPIRASI initiative, but also to further push for more initiative to transform school leaders in Indonesia.