We have a family with two young children who have attended the Joglo Preschool since they were toddlers. The older child has special needs. As an infant, he had trouble speaking, could not focus, had a hard time connecting when spoken to, exercised no self-control in interacting with other children, and physically disrupted his surroundings. Before he attended Joglo, this condition forced his mother to stop working to attend to his needs. While her son was an infant, she met a child with the same special needs as her son. He was thriving at the Joglo Preschool.
She researched the school and learned of the methods they employ based on AVP [Alternatives to Violence Project]. These methods reflect the principles of respect, affirmation, listening, communicating and working together peacefully. Each child is appreciated, treated kindly, and supported. The child’s grandparents wondered why their grandson would go to a Christian school with a visiting bule (fairskinned, tall, large person). In Java, bule look like the Dutch, who colonized Indonesia for centuries. Why was their grandson at a school that did not teach the Al-Qur’an, while other children their grandson’s age could cleverly recite Qur’anic verses?
Struggling internally with sending her Muslim son to a Christian school, the mother asked her husband if he thought it was right to send their son to Joglo, and he expressed no strong objections. Her inner struggles drove her to browse the internet for teachings by , Islamic experts, on the education of young children and on relations among Muslims and Christians.
At the same time, she was introduced to approaches to raising and educating children based on AVP, and its underlying philosophy of education and community life. The mother was committed to sending her children to a school that respects, as well as teaches, them. Even though the Joglo Preschool has both Christian and Muslim teachers and the concern of whether or not to offer optional Al-Qur’an instruction is constant, it is, in fact, a Christian school.
To this day the children remain at Joglo. The mother teaches them the AlQur’an at home. Joglo has won several awards this past year for model education and student performance, although it receives no government funding, and its teachers’ salaries are one tenth of those of public school teachers. The special needs boy has improved beyond any expectations: in self-control, concentration, physical, and cognitive abilities.
The mother speaks of the AVP approach so highly that when her sister and husband were dispatched to work here in Pati for a month, they asked if their small children could attend Joglo also. The mother and father of the special needs boy even invited an FPT volunteer to stay at their home this year to experience the atmosphere of Ramadan. The volunteer was well received by everyone, including the grandparents.
By Petrus, at Peace Place in Pati, Central Java, Indonesia
This article is featured in the Fall-Winter edition of PeaceWays. Click here to read more.