Hikmah Mulia Dewi

Rainbow Preschool, Pekalongan, Indonesia

Hikmah  Mulia Dewi

Hikmah’s mission has been to prove that early childhood education – or pre-school – is just as important, valuable and challenging as education of older ages. In 2011 she set up her own preschool with just three students. Now, in 2018, that school has grown to 150 students.

As a child, Hikmah grew up around educators. Her mother was an elementary school teacher, and Hikmah watched her do a huge amount of work for what seemed a small salary. It was not until she started teaching preschool herself that she understood her mother’s commitment. However, she believes the public and the Indonesian government underestimate the value of early childhood education. Many parents use preschool just because they need time out from childcare in order to work: the result is that many preschools do not promote child development and skills as much as they could.

Hikmah’s response to this has been to develop a more advanced method of preschool teaching based on scientific investigation and project learning. This involves a number of stages such as expressing ideas, discussing a theme, making observations, asking questions, collecting information, playing and making a product. Children make journals and simple books – some of which have gone on to be published. Hikmah has also supported these efforts with a teacher improvement programme called the “Noble Educator Academy”, designed to create expert preschool teachers. She has given other educators the opportunity to intern and study within her school and has contributed training and teaching tools to other schools.

In 2015, Hikmah received an award for innovation as the first national-level early childhood educator by the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture. Her school also received awards in the 2015 national Early Childhood Education competition; fourth place in the national Preschool Management competition in 2018; and first place at the School Parenting Program competition in 2018. If Hikmah is awarded the Global Teacher Prize, she will use the money to develop the school and provide more scholarships to poor children. Her dream is to open preschools in poor and remote areas of Indonesia with free tuition fees. She would also develop a parenting program, a community education centre, and a modern library to accommodate various works from children, parents, educators and the community.