Living Classroom Outreach Program at SD Negeri 1 Kemenuh School

The SD Negeri 1 Kemenuh (Government Primary School No1 of Kemenuh Village) is located in Banjar Sumampan, Desa Kemenuh, Gianyar, Bali. This local Balinese Primary School, situated in a small village between

Ubud and Denpasar, has 6 classes (grades 1 through 6), with student ages ranging from 6 through 13 years of age. 


The number of students in each class range from 28 to 40 kids. The school has 12 teachers, and its facilities include the classrooms, a teacher's room, headmaster's office and a small library.

The school is in a relatively quiet area of Bali and has limited funds, so it makes due with whatever support can be ascertained from the school's small standard government budget, which is sometimes subsidized by parent support of in kind donations. The parents of this school's students are mostly farmers, laborers and many support their families by seeking work on cruise ships or in tourism facilities in other parts of the island.

Banjar Sumampan is both blessed, and faced with a range of challenges. 

Some positive elements include that the area has not yet been overrun with unchecked development like so many other parts of Bali; Desa Kemenuh has a strong, committed leadership that is keen to develop Kemenuh as an example of 'Cuturally Based Tourism'; and the local leadership is also very open to issues relating to environmental eduction and management. 

Banjar Sumampan is also home to the site of the under-development Taman Petanu Eco Neighborhood (TPEN), Bali's first holistic eco neighborhood that is being planned based on Permaculture principles and practices.

Some of the challenges in the area includea 15-year old unregulated dumpsite that caused serious damage to the local environment; mining of the area's river bed for building materials such as sandstone; widespread chemical farming; as well as lack of local opportunities for sustainable livelihoods - which is why so many of the youth and younger parents in the community leave the area to find work in the tourism industry that Bali is so famous for.

Bali's environment is reaching a critical point. More and more tourists are being brought to the island, while the preparedness of the Balinese to address the inevitable impacts that such rapid development entails is extremely limited. The results are major solid waste management issues, widespread pollution of the island's waterways and land, and sanitation related health problems. These types of increasing challenges can be found island wide.

Training and resources for schoolteachers so that they can be motivated and able to deliver environmental education in local schools is extremely rare, even though there is such a critical need. On average, teachers in Indonesia receive very low wages, in many cases, less than minimum wage, and they are forced to work double jobs to make ends meet at home.

These teachers, if supported and motivated, could play a major role in developing the capacity and awareness of the local community for environmental protection. Local communities need to re-learn how to grow organic food at home, how to manage wastes and how to protect the rapidly reducing resources of the island before it's too late. Bali's youth also very much need to learn about eco-systems and how they, who will inherit many of the impacts of Bali's current unchecked, rapid development can address increasing environmental impacts over time. There is an urgent need for developing model schools that can provide eco-literacy and environmental education solutions for the island in both the short and longer terms.

As in many places, in Bali, the principles that 'when people see it works it spreads' holds very true. 

To be able to start addressing the somewhat overwhelming and widespread challenges that the island is facing, a model or example school has the potential to be a catalyst for major changes.
 With this in mind, the SD Negeri 1 Kemenuh has been chosen as the site for the development of Bali's first "Living Classroom". 

The enthusiasm of the local community to implement the program, combined with support from and the proximity to The Taman Petanu Eco Neighborhood makes this school an ideal location for piloting eco-litteracy, healthful living, good nutrition, environmental protection and rehabilitation as part of the school's standard local curriculum.

Watch this video to see some of the activities underway at SDN Negeri 1 Kemenuh by the Living Classroom team...

Working in cooperation with TPEN and other local facilitators, the 'Living Classroom Team' have come up with some initial strategies for combining lessons learned to date in Indonesia with best-practice experiences in Australia to make this program an amazing success.

One of the members of TPEN is Petra Schneider, is the author of IDEP Foundation's ground breaking curriculum 'Panduan Belajar Lingkungan Hidup dan Kesiapsiagaan Bencana untuk Sekolah Dasar' (The Teaching Handbook for Environmental and Disaster Education for Primary Schools).

This creative handbook includes dozens of dynamic lesson plans, games and activities that can help local teachers, when they are properly trained to do so to establish a locally relevant 'Living Classroom' model. IDEP Foundation and other local NGOs in Indonesia have been using the handbook in various post disaster zones in Indonesia with good success.

Through Alam Santi, the Taman Petanu members are is currently working with local leadership in Kemenuh to support a local program that is working to empower a local community waste management program and educate local women in safer and more sustainable waste management practices. As children, and the information that they bring home from school have a lot of influence in the homes in Bali, by implementing the 'Living Classroom' program the success of the women's community waste management initiative will be dramatically increased.

In the longer term, the residents of TPEN, which include well-seasoned activist and local families committed to environmentally sound living, will develop an area just beyond the perimeter of the neighborhood as a model organic farm and farming / value adding training area. Through their pioneering 'Living Classroom' the children of SD Negeri 1 Kemenuh will be able to be involved with and encourage their families' involvement in, the organic farmers cooperative that will operate through the farm.

The community of Kemenuh is very enthusiastic about this opportunity for the development of their local school as Indonesia's pioneering Living Classroom. They have high hopes for their children and also many stories, traditions and ideas to share. 

It is hoped that part of the program will include establishing direct linkages between the Sumampan, Kemenuh school children with their counterpart Living Classroom friends in Australia. Should resources allow this could happen through anything from a simple pen pal program through to emails, exchange visits and so on.