for a change

random thoughts in a journey for a change

Hey, I Was Thinking About That! September 15, 2010

Filed under: children,real world,social work — Agastya Candrawan @ 11:14 am

Yes, those were the exact words that came out of my mouth this morning when I ran across this NGO on Facebook. But, no worries, Im not going to be grumpy about that. In fact, I am trilled to know that this some smart people in Indonesia have started this initiative. If you are familiar with Teach for America, I would say that this is the Indonesian version of the program.

Wished I was still 25 and a fresh graduate so that I can apply, yup those days are long gone. Im just helping to spread the word and maybe someday be able to contribute to the initiative.

The program is called Indonesia Mengajar and here is the link to their website

I super love this idea of giving back to our communities, starting in from educating our young ones!


Raising a Bilingual Child

Filed under: children,parenting,real world,thoughts — Agastya Candrawan @ 11:03 am

I’ve been thinking about this matter long before I become a mother. When I was a teacher in a bilingual school, parents always brought up this subject in conversations.  To tell you the truth, I do not have any definite answer on this matter, and now I have to raise one myself 🙂

There is abundance of research out there about this. In sum, there are many positive impacts that children gain from being bilingual.  And I do belief that this is true.  I found some interesting article today. Im going to start by reviewing them. Here are the articles:

I’ll be back once Im done reading it and share my thoughts 🙂


An Addition to My World (and the Blog)

Filed under: children,real world,social work — Agastya Candrawan @ 10:43 am

I am happy to tell the world, I am now a mother.  There just too many new experiences to share. Im not planning to turn this blog to a parenting/family blog, so I’ll share some of my experience as a parent that is related to social-work-welfare-program-policy-change and those social-work nerds stuff 🙂

I’ll share some of the programs that are available for mothers and children. I came across these programs, support, resources when I was in class or doing my internship.  I’ve read policies and research papers about these, and now I am actually seeking, receiving, and looking for these support. Yes, as a social welfare nerd, I think this is a different level of learning. I will also share my thoughts on parenting issues, approach, philosophies that are thought-provoking or just mundane.


Early Childhood – How Early?? April 27, 2010

Filed under: children,social work,thoughts — Agastya Candrawan @ 9:03 pm

Its been a year (or more) since the last time I blogged.  The last time I promised to spend more time writing, apparently it didn’t happen 🙂

As a new start, here’s an article that I wrote last summer (yes, last year). I think it is still relevant. Enjoy the article!

When I graduated from college, I worked as a kindergarten teacher in Jakarta for a few years. I learned more than I had expected from that experience and became an advocate of the “golden years” concept of how deeply human development is shaped by the first five years of life. As acceptance of the notion of early childhood education grows, I have noticed that policies and programs have focused more heavily on the pre-kindergarten experience. Is it true that policies and programs are most effective if they focus on the preschool period rather than even earlier in life?

Some answers can be found in research in the U.S. on Head Start, a federally funded preschool program for low-income families. A few years ago, studies indicated modest results from this program. Several factors lay behind the results, including the quality of the teachers, level of funding and even the form of evaluation itself. What is of interest for me, however, is that the program has focused on the development of children who are already 4 or 5 years old.

The program’s impact stems from providing a learning environment (both in school as well as in the family) that helps children in the years immediately before starting school. But children’s development does not start when they are 4 years old; instead, it begins early in pregnancy and continues in the first years of life before children enter preschool.

In fact a great deal of research supports the idea that infant development can affect an individual’s life, and much of this indicates the crucial impact of factors on fetal development. Based on these findings, the Obama administration is concentrating on funding for programs that start during pregnancy and continue through the first years of children’s lives. There is a new emphasis on making sure that mothers-to-be are healthy and knowledgeable and that, even in infancy, children are developing well and are hence more prepared to enter pre-kindergarten. This seems to be an important step in the evolution of policy, and I hope it foretells a more balanced picture of funding and interest for providing building blocks for children’s development.

Where is my homeland of Indonesia headed when it comes to these trends? Has the government accepted the importance of early childhood care and education leading up to pre-kindergarten?

In the 1990s, programs such as the Integrated Service Post were developed. In this program, community-based health centers provide vitamins and healthy food for pregnant and lactating mothers and their infants and toddlers. The program had a limited education component. Even before we have been able to conduct exhaustive scientific research, the program has been taken to be relatively successful. For example, the program lent a hand to the high national immunization rate and sharp decline in child mortality.

Unfortunately, over the past few years, Indonesian government has not displayed much interest in continuing these types of programs. In previous presidential campaigns, all the candidates seemed to be chanting the “free basic education for all” mantra without paying any attention to early childhood education. The current government has just proposed its largest budget for education, and it mostly focuses on funding for the school system. In particular, over the past few years, government funding in Indonesia has been redirected toward achieving universal access to primary education. This is a part of the Millennium Development Goals championed by the United Nations. Declared nine years ago, eight goals (such as ending extreme poverty, achieving universal primary education and gender equality) were set by U.N. members to be achieved by developing countries by 2015.

I take it as a given that policy makers everywhere have the best interest of children at heart, but I have seen programs work quite differently, depending on the directions they pursue to achieve that goal. Government leaders in Indonesia need to take a step back and consider the powerful influence of early childhood care on education and lifelong development. If they did so, they would give more attention to development in prenatal, infancy, early childhood periods.

Knowing that prenatal care and support during the very earliest years of life can have significant impact on shaping children’s future, funding and program organization should also start early, beginning with pregnancy, to make sure infants and toddlers are born and raised in a healthy way. Although legislations have been put in place to regulate kindergarten level education as a part of the formal education system, none has been enacted to integrate services between ministries to link early childhood education and care with the formal education system to develop a comprehensive policy. A more holistic approach in education is also needed.

It is crucial that children from the very earliest stages of development are being prepared so that they are physically and emotionally ready to go to school. This must be done before focusing resources solely on the number of children in schools and jeopardizing the quality of human capital that will affect the future of the nation.

PS: Here is a link to the article featured in the St. Louis Beacon


About Change-Note for Ourselves November 11, 2008

Filed under: real world — Agastya Candrawan @ 1:13 am

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. – Barack Obama-


Update-Back to Campus July 1, 2008

Filed under: journal — Agastya Candrawan @ 11:59 pm

Senang, terima beberapa email dari teman-teman kampus, almamater saya akan mengadakan gathering besar-besaran. Terus sempat check juga websitenya. Sepertinya banyak rencana yang ingin diwujudkan. Mungkin tak ada kaitannya antara tulisan saya tentang kontribusi alumni dan penyelengaraan acara tersebut, tapi semangat banget bahwa banyak orang punya visi yang sama dan juga mulai merealisasikan visi-visi tersebut. Pengen banget bisa ikut berpartisipasi, sayangnya saya tak terdaftar di direktori mereka dan belum menemukan cara untuk bisa berpartisipasi dari jauh. Baiklah, saya akan terus berusaha.


Parks: Here, there, and everywhere! April 5, 2008

Filed under: children,real world — Agastya Candrawan @ 8:07 pm

Here in the US,as a contrary to my city Jakarta, you might be able to locate at least one park in your neighborhood. It could be just a green space where you can sit and enjoy yourself, big parks where you can jog or ride your bike and enjoy their plaza or attractions, playground for children,or even special parks for your dogs. I’m sure, there are many terminologies to differentiate these park according to their use or locations.

And I don’t need to explain, as I’m sure many of you have understood how crucial it is to have parks, open and green spaces in your surroundings. A park or green space brings nothing but goodness to our lives.  For sure, it will reduce air polution and conserve energy by cooling the temperature. It can also be a place where citizens (children, youth, adults, and seniors) meet and socialize. I browse around and find some great ideas, that inspired me and hopefully other dreamers (well, we can call ourselves as advocates or social entrepreneurs :)) and also legislators.

The city of New York has a plan that within 10 years from now, New Yorkers will be able to find a park within 10 minutes walking distance from their homes!Wow, big dream!And they have great plans to ensure that it will happen.  And I feel some of their plans might be doable for us (I’m sure Bloomberg will not mind if we copy their great plans called plaNYC, we’ re not copying, it can be a dissemination of might be an evidence-based practice). One think that I like from the plan is that they will utilizes the use of existed schoolyards. Government will work with schools so that schoolyards will accessible outside of school hours. And of course they would equipped school yards to be public park or yard. Another great idea to create green open space (not particularly for children, though) is to create community plazas, where pavements or aspalt streets can be transformed into plazas with the touch of greenery. Another project, that I believe has started in Indonesia few years ago is to create “green blocks” where residences will have mini gardens, potted plants, and plant sidewalks of their neighborhood with trees.

OK, another great idea comes from an organization called Kaboom. This organization focuses only on making sure that each child has access to a play area within walking distance!They work together with communities to build playgrounds for children, including private sectors and those who loves children. They provide trainings, equipments, and even people can volunteer to help build play areas. Check their website here.

And guess what??Indonesia has one great program, called Green Map. It started in NY, but then Marco Kusumawijaya brought the idea of mapping green areas to Indonesia. Green Map movement is aimed for creating sustainable living through greener spaces. This is a huge, globally social movement that we should be a part of it. The Green Map tools will help community members and also others with decision making power to create a sustainable environment. It will also help you to find green areas in areas or other parts of the world. I should try to go through their Jakarta Map when I’m home. Check their website here.