The Jakarta Post
Service learning has become a key part of learning programs around the world, with schools and universities recognizing it as an effective methodology for fostering social responsibility, community spirit and empathy.
The approach is seen as an immersive way of combining academic objectives with relevant community service, replacing the more traditional practice of offering social outreach as an extracurricular activity and without utilizing the skills students learn in class. As a result, students gain a more holistic learning experience while increasing their awareness about pressing environmental and societal issues.
In Indonesia, service learning is alive and thriving at Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS), where it has been emphasized through much of the school’s near 70-year history. The interdisciplinary approach is embedded in JIS’ curriculum at every grade level, from Early Years (ages 3-5) through Grade 12 (ages 17-18), strengthened by student-led co-curricular activities that aim to help communities located a stone’s throw away from campus or even on the other side of the archipelago.
Social Studies courses, for example, include research, advocacy and service campaigns linked to units on real-world problems such as water pollution, economic development and refugee crises throughout history, among other subjects. In JIS High School’s Creative Arts and Design Technology classes, students design and paint murals in hospitals and orphanages, as well as design and produce furniture for similar organizations.
Meanwhile, English classes invite students to explore themes of disability, child trafficking, migrant labor and gender exploitation through literature. Follow-up assignments see them developing personal connections with local yayasan (nonprofit foundations) and schools, as well as gain insights from NGOs and experts.
And at JIS Elementary School, a highly anticipated annual charity event is Stitch It Week,
a proud tradition that started 16 years ago. Students design various useful day-to-day items such as tote bags, pillow covers and small pillow ornaments, which are then brought to life by long-time special guest and machine-embroidery artist Pak Dik-Dik. These items are sold over the course of Stitch It Week, with proceeds going to charities that help put children from underprivileged families through school.
Spirit of stitching: With the help of a machine-embroidery artist, young artists at JIS’ Pattimura elementary school campus create various items for sale, such as tote bags, pillow covers and small pillow ornaments that they designed themselves. (./.)
JIS students themselves have taken the initiative to start their own service programs: Hope for Hygiene that donates hygiene products to charities and hospital, Combined Team led by three after-school clubs dedicated to making masks, soap and hand sanitizer to distribute to various communities, Conquer Cancer Club fully dedicated to raising funds for foundations such as Yayasan Kasih Anak Kanker Indonesia (YKAKI) and Mary’s Cancer Kiddies — and the list goes on.
Helping the ecosystem: JIS students learn all about mangroves and their ecosystems, such as how they function, why they’re so important for the environment and how they’re related to the marine issues of Jakarta’s coastline. (./.)
Then, there’s JIS Peduli (JIS Cares), a schoolwide organization run by JIS students, teachers, administrators and staff members alike with the purpose of providing support for service-learning initiatives and coordinating the school’s response to disasters. In the past few years alone, JIS Peduli has successfully organized the distribution of aid to families and schools affected by devastating earthquakes in Palu, Central Sulawesi, and Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, as well as victims of massive flooding in Jakarta.
One house at a time: JIS High School students, accompanied by chaperones and the head of the school, Dr. Tarek Razik, Ed.D, lend a hand to Habitat for Humanity while learning about the day-to-day lives of local residents of a rural area of Sentul in Bogor, West Java. (./.)
But most recently, its focus has been on mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 in the capital, taking inspiration from the Indonesian spirit of gotong royong (mutual cooperation) to provide assistance to those impacted by the outbreak.
With the help of Jakarta-based alumni, JIS Peduli teamed up with the Artha Graha Peduli (AGP) COVID-19 Response Center to distribute 1,000 home-care sanitation kits to low-income neighborhoods located near the school’s Cilandak campus in South Jakarta. Then, as a show of appreciation for essential staff members, 300 packages filled with food supplies were handed out to security personnel, cleaners and bus drivers.
And never ones to stay idle, even during an unprecedented pandemic, JIS students and teachers also joined in the mitigation efforts. A group of 11th-graders developed aerosol boxes to be used as added personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical workers treating COVID-19 patients, while a JIS Middle School teacher teamed up with the Gerakan Kepedulian (GK) Club to design and test face masks to be donated and sold in bundles. The breathable cotton-polyester masks are made by seamstresses employed by GK Mustikasari — which will receive proceeds from the sales — and in three weeks alone, the collaboration produced over 2,500 masks, with 800 free masks already distributed to low-income neighborhoods in Jakarta.
More than just a teaching tool, service learning at JIS is about fostering respect and kindness and providing far-reaching solutions to real-world problems. At the very center of this important mission are the JIS students, who will continue to create positive changes around them however and whenever they can — every bit matters.