Ibu Ida sparks conversations in Indonesia - From conventional lecturing to participatory facilitation

Dr. Kusdamayanti, a senior government trainer for Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry concludes her latest lecture.  She has been a government trainer throughout her career, and has stayed faithful to traditional training methods used by the government: presenting a series of PowerPoint presentations on the theory of forest management.

That changed, however, in 2009 when she took part in a Conflict Management training by RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests. In the training, she first began to realize that training could be done interactively and that involving participants actually helps their learning process.

As soon as the training concluded, she revisited her training materials and methods. Using the new techniques and approaches from the RECOFTC training, she revised her curriculum on forest and conflict management. She simplified technical terms, and integrated teaching social inclusion as part of her work, along with approaches to transform conflict management in practical ways.

She soon had her first chance to apply her new ideas. Along with three other government trainers from the Center for Forestry Education and Training (CFET, the training arm of Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry), she co-facilitated a RECOFTC-CFET joint training on forest management for national forestry officers.

In 2010, when RECOFTC began implementing the Grassroots Capacity Building for REDD+ in Asia project in Indonesia, Dr. Kusdamayanti – now known more affectionately as Ibu Ida – was a natural choice to get involved as a representative of Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

“One of the first activities we conducted was a training of trainers workshop with 16 national trainers. Because they were so used to the conventional training methods, it took us time to encourage the trainers to be confident to develop their own course contents and identify their own methods to deliver the trainings. They were not used to being encouraged to take part in the discussion or decision making. On top of that, we also suggested that they simplify the language and terms to accommodate their audience’s needs and level of understanding,” says Ibu Ida.

Understanding the struggles of the trainers, she shared methods, tricks and approaches she learned from RECOFTC or developed herself. “The topics of climate change and REDD+ can be very intimidating and complicated, especially with all the technical terms and jargon,” she explains.

“But your methods of explaining the effects of climate change to both trainers and local communities are being used by many others now. Many are using your idea of wrapping participants in plastic so they can personally know the effects of climate change – hot and suffocating. Through your exercise, participants get the point!” says Kanchana Wiset, RECOFTC program officer.

Ida’s role did not stop there. As CFET has a mandate to train forestry officials and extension workers throughout the country, she was assigned to provide sub-national trainings in several provinces in Indonesia. Although she was confident in her skills to facilitate, she found that conducting trainings with local communities have their own challenges.

“Local communities at first often don’t care about the concept of climate change or REDD+, even though they face climate impacts daily,” she says. “For example, in Meru Betiri national park, we needed to train a group of women preachers. So we tailored our curriculum to their context, so that the women preachers can relate and are interested.”

“When we started the workshop with the women preachers, we did not even mention climate change or REDD+. We just discussed the situation in their villages and their daily lives. We then asked them to draw two pictures: one is a drawing about the condition of their villages and forests when they were young and the other is about the current conditions. Once they saw and compared their own drawings we could bring in the topic of climate change and REDD+. We used the method where we know the women could feel, experience and recall their personal stories,” Ida recalled. For her to teach is to touch the heart, a philosophy she uses in training or facilitating. 

To date Ida’s methods and approaches are still used by other forestry trainers and facilitators. Not only are they being used by trainers in workshops with local communities, but local communities who became grassroots facilitators are also drawing on Ida’s approaches when they conduct awareness raising in their communities. Ida still receives phone calls and emails from trainers and extension workers from other provinces requesting her guidance.

“I now know the importance of using local knowledge and building upon a community’s experiences to explain climate change and the concept of REDD+. I’ve integrated much of my newly gained knowledge, facilitation skills and techniques in my own curriculum within CFET. This will help CFET improve my organization’s capacities and reputation as the government’s national capacity development institution. CFET has a mission to be an international REDD+ training center and I believe with our enhanced skills and capacity, we can realize this dream,” she says with confidence.

April, 2016