Cerita Nurkisma, a teacher at SD 176/I Karya Mukti, a public elementary school in Jambi Province’s Batanghari District, is a winner of the “Most Favorite Teachers Competition” sponsored by the local newspaper, the Jambi Express. Ms. Nurkisma teaches in the midst of a rural area cultivated as palm oil production land, nearly 30 miles away from the closest city of any size. She never expected to win, believing that an elementary school teacher from such an isolated region would not be able to compete with better-credentialed instructors from larger cities.
Yet a dream came true for Ms. Nurkisma when contest organizers announced her name. She points to support from her supervisor, her colleagues, and a teacher training program from the nonprofit Tanoto Foundation for helping her to prepare, and for giving her the confidence necessary to enter the contest in the first place. The foundation was established by businessman Sukanto Tanoto, one of Indonesia’s wealthiest and most generous philanthropists. It maintains a particular focus on supporting teachers and students at all educational levels, especially those working in underserved and rural regions.
Ms. Nurkisma encouraged other elementary school teachers to enter future competitions, saying that the honor bestowed on her makes it clear the achievement doesn’t require specialized knowledge—just perseverance and a spirit of dedication. The award enabled her to travel to Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia in order to participate in opportunities for comparative study in her field. She finished this course impressed with the cleanliness of Singapore’s public spaces. In Thailand, the focus was on best practices in allocating educational hours, and in Malaysia, the class provided an overview of high quality extracurricular programs.
Now that Ms. Nurkisma has widened her own perspectives on teaching and learning, she has rededicated her efforts to improving the quality of education in her own school and its surrounding community. Among the other services the Tanoto Foundation provides to teachers are educator and administrator trainings, library management classes, and health and building maintenance instruction. By taking advantage of such programs, teachers even in Indonesia’s most remote areas can realize their dreams of bettering their students’ futures.