Ashoka Fellow
Semarang, Indonesia
Fellow Since 2011


This profile was prepared when Ciptono was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
In a school for diffabled students he founded in 2002, and continues to direct in Semarang, the capital city of Central Java Province, Ciptono has transformed the usual curriculum for special needs students in Indonesia by the inclusion of training in vocational and entrepreneurial skills as an important supplement to academic learning. In a radical departure from what other special needs schools in Indonesia are doing, Ciptono and his colleagues tailor each student’s course of study to his/her individual preferences and competencies. Once these are identified, students are placed in courses selected from a variety of fields. All students also receive training in entrepreneurial skills, to enable them to monetize their skills, and build pathways to economic independence.

In addition to their coursework in academic, vocational, and entrepreneurial skills, students’ benefit from a range of therapies provided at the schools, that will soon be supplemented by a home therapy initiative in which parents are trained to provide therapy for their children.

As a consequence of the many innovations that Ciptono has introduced, the school in Semarang is now producing self-confident graduates who are demonstrating that they can function effectively and independently in the workplace. Ciptono’s work in the school and the wide-ranging advocacy efforts in which he is engaged, have also attracted considerable attention in the media, and he has hosted visiting delegations from several other special education schools in Indonesia and other Asian countries. In addition, several faculty members from special education schools in Indonesia have undertaken internships in the Semarang school in order to observe Ciptono’s innovations, with the aim of replicating them in their schools.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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