Australia Awards in Indonesia

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21 Nov 2023

Widyarini Weningtyas Bridges Gaps in Children's Public Transport Education with Navi Station

University lecturer Widyarini Weningtyas, known as Rini, dreams of cities that are safe and accessible for everyone, including children.

She has taken a step towards realising her dream through the Australia Awards Short Course on Public Transport Management in Metropolitan Areas, hosted by Griffith University in 2022.

In her award project, Rini created Navi Station, an initiative focused on preparing children aged between 5 and 7 to use rail-based public transportation safely by helping them understand public transportation signage.

"I believe understanding public transportation signage is crucial for kids. Through Navi Station, I aim to empower children to use public transportation confidently. This year, our focus has been on the train network," shared Rini.

Since September 2023, Rini has been teaching in kindergartens around Greater Jakarta and other cities in West Java, such as Bogor, Bandung, and Cimahi, using toolkits with materials such as activity books, toy bricks, and papercraft.

Preschool teachers have validated these toolkits through comprehensive evaluations. They were crafted by local businesses that produce toys.

“Teaching kindergarten was completely outside my comfort zone,” Rini shared. “As a college teacher, this was an entirely new experience. But all the kids were very excited when they learned more about the rail signage system and couldn't wait to visit the station. That's all that mattered!"

While this type of activity is unusual for Rini, a lecturer in civil engineering and an assistant professor at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) with 11 years of experience, she is passionate about making a greater contribution to the next generation, particularly through education.

“I came across a study that says if you design cities for kids, then you design it for all. So, this is where I started my research. I thought that if I design the toolkit on wayfinding and signage for children, it can be an example for all,” Rini excitedly shared.

Navi Station has received funding from ITB and Indonesia’s Ministry of Education this year. The Railway Safety Directorate General of the Ministry of Transportation also appreciated the initiative and planned to add the project to its curricula for children.

Network Support for the Navi Station Project

Rini’s study experience in Australia has proved beneficial, as it enabled her to build a strong network among awardees and make connections within Jakarta’s MRT (Mass Rapid Transit), LRT (Light Rail Transit) and KAI (Kereta Api Indonesia, or Railways Indonesia). This network has played a crucial role in supporting her project, which requires collaboration with various stakeholders across different departments.

“I’m grateful for being part of the short course. This experience broadened my perspective and expanded my network,” Rini emphasised.

“I met wonderful people during the course who greatly contributed to the initiation of Navi Station. Most of my connections in the transportation sector, including the MRT, LRT, and KAI, came from fellow short course participants. Their valuable feedback and constructive criticism have significantly enhanced my project,” Rini shared.

Also, she and one of the short course participants, Fajar Nugrahaini submitted Navi Station for the 6th Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation 2023.

“We are among 15 shortlisted cities from around 274 initiatives from 59 countries. We are the only participants from Jakarta, Southeast Asia, and together with China and Korea, represent the Asia Pacific,” Rini shared.

Collaboration with Griffith University

After completing her short course, Rini stayed in touch with one of her mentors from Griffith University, Professor Matthew Burke. They share a common understanding of transportation issues and trends in Asia.

Professor Burke is set to assist Rini in supervising her research on the impact of non-communicable diseases (NCDS) concerning urban health transportation in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs).

"In New South Wales, Australia, they've already researched the (economic) losses due to non-communicable diseases. They called it the NSW Active Travel Health Model. We aim to extend this research to other countries, particularly Southeast Asia. Bandung is one of the three chosen cities. The result of the proposal will be announced in February 2024, so wish us the best of luck!" Rini shared.

In addition to this collaborative research, Rini is eager to enhance the partnership between ITB and Griffith University.

"We're working towards a double-degree collaboration with Griffith University. The main challenge is that scholarships often do not support studying abroad for a masters degree. This poses a significant obstacle. However, ITB already has a Memorandum of Understanding with Griffith University, so I hope the process will be smoother," Rini shared.

Expanding Navi Station

Next year, Rini will collaborate with Transjakarta and the Ministry of Transportation for the Teman Bus (Bus Friends) program, part of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, covering ten cities in Indonesia.

In this project, Rini aims to familiarise children with bus transportation, covering all aspects, from ticket purchasing to safety, by recognising signage.

She has initiated discussions with the Teman Bus program in Medan, North Sumatra, to kick off. This marks one of her initial steps in expanding the Navi Station initiative nationwide.

"Navi Station has successfully created a penta-helix ecosystem involving academics, government, operators, businesses, and the community. I want to continue this project to benefit others, hopefully," Rini said.

At the same time, Rini hopes to grow in her teaching career. Her big dream is to become a professor and be known as an expert in her field. This reflects her commitment to continuous learning and contributing to the academic landscape through publishing research.

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