Education Still a Major Problem for Papua

Suara Pembaruan, page 16

For more than a decade, Indonesia has been trying to improve its education system by allocating 20% of national budget (APBN) for education. There are 62 million students and 3.5 million teachers and university lecturers. Unfortunately, these fantastic numbers have failed to guarantee   equal distribution and quality throughout the country. According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), in the 2013/2104 academic year, there were 117,529 primary school (SD) students and 39,529  high school (SMA) students in West Papua province. While in the province of Papua, there were 336.644 SD students and 94,897 SMA students. Unfortunately, the facts on the ground are far from just numbers.

The economic, cultural conditions and geographical accessibility have become constraints for many children in the region. There are still many of the people who do not care about the importance of education for their children. Or they experienced economic hardships and thus could not afford to pay their children’s education.  BPS data has also mentioned that West Papua and Papua had the lowest scores in the Human Development Index (HDI) report for 2010-2015.

Even so, a glimmer of hope often appears in the middle of a difficult situation. In the region of mount Mamit, Tolikara, Lentera Harapan primary school still stands to provide free quality education for local residents. With the assistance of missionaries and volunteers from the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), the students in the region began to receive formal and informal education. Lentera Harapan Primary School is slowly teaching the Mamit people about education and hygiene. Starting from the use of the toilets up to washing hands before eating.

The collaboration between the government and private sector such as this is needed to develop education access to the remote areas of Papua and West Papua. People who have received decent education should return to their home villages and share their knowledge.

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