The Jakarta Post, page 5
Despite free education being readily available, the West Sulawesi regency of Mamuju is struggling to bring down the number of school dropouts, as many children help their parents to make ends meet.
Last year saw nearly 10,000 children in the regency quit school prematurely. Mamuju Regent Habsi Wahid blamed the condition on economic, social and cultural factors, with some 7 % of the regency’s population living in poverty and 80% of the dropout children coming from poor families.
Habsi said, children that should be going to school have to work to help their families earn more. That’s why they drop out of the school. Adding that some children had never even set foot in a school because of their parent’s poverty.
Parts of Mamuju, especially the mountainous and coastal regions, are difficult to access due the limited transportation facilities. The highest level of education people reach is senior high school. Nobody studies at university.
Traditionally, Mamuju parents like to get their children married at a young age, as doing so is considered more respectable than sending them to school.
The regency administration in 2015 launched an initiative termed the Back to School Movement (GKB) with the goal of bringing all the dropouts back to school by 2018. He said last year they succeeded in sending 500 back to school. And this year they target of increasing that figure to 3,200.