Montessori in Indonesia - An Interview with Ibu Luisa

The list of problems Indonesia is facing is long. From the deforestation of the rainforest, the lack of species protection, the poverty of the population to natural disasters and corruption. It can only be worked through piece by piece in international cooperation. There are many pieces of the puzzle that have to be put together. What role Montessori kindergartens and the nehemia team play in this process is told by employee Ibu Luisa, who runs the Montessori kindergarten in Melingkat.

Montessori? In Indonesia? What is that anyway?

When I first heard about the Montessori methods, I had no idea what it was supposed to be. I only knew the classical school system of Kalimantan and I was determined not to get involved with any new approaches. I thought it would only bring us a lot of trouble. Today I am glad that I jumped over my shadow.

Before Montessori, we couldn't see any big improvements for the children. Yes, of course, you could tell in elementary school which children were able to attend kindergarten at all before and which were not. But our children did not stand out. They knew more about God, but that was all. After we introduced the Montessori methods, things looked different. We could see a steady improvement in academic performance. Every year the ten best students are awarded. Meanwhile, the majority of these excellent students come from our kindergarten and the principal regularly encourages parents to send their children to us. This shows us, the Montessori kindergartens work also in Indonesia.

Every child has gifts and abilities, you have to take the time to discover and develop them.

What sets us apart from the others is our approach. I often observe that teachers do the work just to collect their salary at the end. There is little dedication to the teacher's mission of moving a child forward. Every child has gifts and abilities, but you have to take the time to discover and develop them, for that you need teachers who are faithful and dedicated.

Infrastructure is a problem for many children. In a rural place like this one, access to quality education is limited. The child's background plays less of a role than one might think. There are definitely young men and women from this village who have successfully completed university studies. All children have potential. But people are needed who recognize it in them and help to develop this existing potential.

We are already seeing the fruits of our labor in our village, including in the interpersonal area.

One problem for the children of places like Melingkat is cultural practices that influence parents and children alike. One of the patterns we have identified is that in families with poorly educated parents, there is often no value seen in education. Parents believe that it is enough for their children to go to elementary school and then go on to paid work. But bit by bit, we are trying to break through old ways of thinking and promote things that move the village community forward.

We can already see the fruits of our Montessori kindergartens in our village, also in the interpersonal area. Families from different faiths here often have complicated, even rival, relationships with each other. But because we take children from all denominations and teach them friendship, respect and care, the children bring these values back home and this changes the families and in the end even the whole village community. We can already feel this, it's wonderful.

I think ultimately the most important thing for a child of kindergarten age is character development, internalizing healthy basics. Children usually develop an interest in learning automatically.

Thanks to Montessori education, a generation is growing up that can bring positive change to Indonesia.

What we often observe in our country today is that we have many smart people who lack strength of character and morals. This is a fundamental problem. Because that results in corruption, for example, and political decisions that harm our nation in the long run. Of course people will hold on to old habits and pass on what they themselves grew up with, we can't change that. But our children here are growing up with an alternative, they can see and do things differently. We are raising a generation that can bring positive change to our country, that will move forward with more integrity and faith. That is the contribution we are making here in our villages.