An Inside Look at PAUD Cemara Kasih School with Founder Agnes Rini-Astuti
The first thing you’ll notice about Agnes, founder of Cemara Kasih school, is her radiant smile, but that won’t be the last thing you’ll remember. The passion, determination, and motivation she has to give back to the children of Bali can be summed up in a word: Revolutionary.
Agnes is revolutionizing the old adage “it takes a village” through her active learning program for underprivileged children in Bali. This is her passion: Holistic and multidisciplinary learning where she focuses - not just on basic reading, writing and arithmetic - but also on “life skills” including loving and caring for others, nutrition, gardening, cooking, good manners and hygiene, waste management, safety, and even entrepreneurship.
Training teachers to improve preschool education in Bali
When it comes to building sustainable schools, Agnes knows that there are four key players: The children, the parents, the community, and the teachers. Combining her natural training talent, her university degree in teaching, and unstoppable passion, Agnes is making waves creating a new paradigm in Bali. Her hard work is not going unrecognized.
Her regional government recently gave Agnes an award for her excellence in the preschool curriculum. On November 7, she was invited to train 50 preschool teachers to help them upgrade from the traditional curriculum into active learning. Held in Negara, West Bali, Agnes’ training is one more step forward to improving preschool education all throughout Bali.
One of the biggest breakthrough moments for the 50 experienced teachers who received the training was on teaching their students about Balinese culture. With Agnes’ holistic approach, the teachers saw the importance of educating kids about Balinese values and festivities to preserve the culture for future generations. You can find Agnes traveling to neighboring schools to train an ever growing number of eager teachers who are excited about these breakthroughs.
Big dreams for small village education
Agnes has an impressive big mission for a small village school: to educate for sustainability and culture through parents-integrated active learning in a natural environment. The mission is driven by her strong values within a supportive, inclusive, and multi-faith environment. Agnes sold handmade jewelry to fund her first school building that opened its doors in 2010. It began in the size of a standard hotel room, and with the help of her community, Agnes was able to build two additional classrooms.
In the six years since she’s built her first school, the community has evolved from 17 underprivileged children to an inclusive mix of children from families in extreme poverty. At her school, children, teachers, parents, and local village neighbors learn, work, and play together to inspire and encourage each other to live purposeful lives.
She took her idea with lots of passion and planted the seeds to start an early education revolution. It’s not just about early education anymore. It’s about a new paradigm that embraces, first and foremost, education, culture and sustainability.
Agnes’ mission isn’t limited to the classroom. She’s got big plans for the next expansion to her school, which will include organic farming to engage the local community and a special training hall for teachers to continue the lasting impact throughout Bali.
Make a difference with Agnes this holiday season
Ready to join Agnes’ village? You don’t have to be in Bali to be a part of Agnes’ passionate community. Join the Love Stories movement this season by shopping for sustainable pajamawear with purpose. With our line of New Arrivals, there’s something for everyone! To donate to Agnes' school directly, please visit the GoFundMe campaign, led by Love Stories Bali.