Creating Opportunity for the Children of West Papua
Raja Ampat is known as one of the last paradises on Earth. It is located in the heart of coral triangle and is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth.
Child Aid Papua High School
In Indonesia, all citizens have to undertake twelve years of compulsory education. Sadly, many children who live in remote areas have difficulty to access the formal high school.
The Story of Ocean Warrior
This environmental program was born at the same time with the environmental awareness story book for kids called Ocean Warrior. The story is about two siblings from Raja Ampat who experience themselves the negative effects of marine debris for marine animals and nature. In the end, they save the marine animals and have initiative to do beach clean-up. This book really relates to what Child Aid Papua wants to do with the children of Raja Ampat; creating environmental awareness especially in marine debris issue. This is why we also called the program “Ocean Warrior”.
In Raja Ampat, waste issue happens because of the coming of development in the area, and also the lack of knowledge towards it. And for the community, it’s all about the habit. They used to just throw away their trash anywhere because they don’t know the differences between the organic and non-organic ones. And for them, when they can’t see the waste anymore – because it washes away by the ocean – it means their area is clean already. The Ocean Warrior program try to create new understanding and habit for community through education and real action.
At the first Ocean Warrior class, we ask the kids to read the book in group and then discuss it together. We try to relate the situation in the book to their daily life. There are also lessons through presentations that relate to the waste issue; to show them the waste effects all around the world. Also, we held “Ocean Warrior Assembly” where the kids discussing their own ideas on what positive action they want to implement in their daily life. They signed an Act and promised to nature-friendly actions such as; always put trash in the bin, not using plastic bag anymore, always take trash whenever they see it and put it in the right place, also spread and create environmental awareness to their surroundings. This Act works really well because the kids here are so into promise, they will try their best to keep it!
After all, every Ocean Warrior has their own stamp book so whenever they do something good for nature, they deserve to get one stamp. The exciting reward is, after they get 10 stamps, they have chance to go and do another clean-up on another island! Funny to think why it makes them so happy to have another clean-up as a reward, but from their point-of-view, that is such a precious reward because most of them don’t really have chance to go out from their own village.
This program also wants to encourage them to be independent in doing clean-up. Gladly nowadays, these kids are able conduct the clean-up by themselves – they do it either in group or alone. Every Tuesday, they can bring their trash to the Education Center and we help them to separate it into the recyclable and non-recyclable waste. In the end, we give the recyclable ones to Bank Sampah in Waisai and the non-recyclable ones to Saonek Community for their paving block project.
This program already showed good feedback; some parents were confused why their children come back from the shop without plastic bag, shop owners who questioning why they don’t want to take the straw and the tourists who are amaze to see the kids going around the village with their trash bag. Still more steps to go but surely these small acts matter for the community, marine creatures and of course, Mother Nature.
Creating Opportunity for the Children of West Papua
Raja Ampat is known as one of the last paradises on Earth. It is located in the heart of coral triangle and is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. Breathtaking nature means Raja Ampat has become famous as a world tourism destination, and with this development fast tourism growth has begun. Tourism growth has a domino effect on local economic development, causing rapid growth. Unfortunately, development in education is not keeping up with these developments and obstacles for the people of Raja Ampat are already apparent.
The development of the tourism industry is creating a high demand for a more skilled and educated workforce. The work field is becoming wider but a workforce must develop with the necessary skills. One such requirement is proficiency in the English language. Tourists and employers come from all over the world and use English as their universal communication language so people with good English are high demand in the area. Even though English lessons are obligatory in the national curriculum, English is not being taught on the islands. Raja Ampat has an issue common to most remote areas; lack of teachers and educational facilities. It is hard for people here to get a good education, let alone the opportunity to study English. For this reason, most of the workforce in the tourism sector is not local to Raja Ampat as locals simply cannot compete with other Indonesians on an educational level.
The other, and most problematic issue, becoming more and more obvious, is the changing of nature. Sadly, it is not positive change. Environmental issues are real. Increasing amounts of litter and damaged coral reef are just two of the bi-products related to fast growing tourism. Without awareness within the stakeholder community, slowly but surely nature will be destroyed. As for the people of Raja Ampat, lack of education means they have almost no understanding of environmental issues and how environmental change will impact their future.
With these points in mind, Child Aid Papua wants to be a part of the solution. The experience of living within the local community makes us better able to understand people’s needs. The future of Raja Ampat is in the hands of the change-makers; its children and adolescents. We believe that every child has the right to education and the opportunity to develop themselves and their home for the future. This is why our focus is to offer free, informal education for children and adolescents, especially in English language and environmental awareness, because in the end, education is the key to the light. we aim to help them understand and open their minds so that they can develop themselves, the area and also preserve their own backyard.
Child Aid Papua High School
In Indonesia, all citizens have to undertake twelve years of compulsory education. Sadly, many children who live in remote areas have difficulty to access the formal high school. Here in Raja Ampat, almost every village only has a primary school. If the children in the village want to continue their education to high school level, they have to go to the nearest town. Child Aid Papua Foundation has been developing the idea to open our own High School Programme since last year. Fortunately, we can make it happens! And we have excellent reasons for that...
For the children who are able to continue their education, they have to stay with extended family who already live in the town or rent a boarding room. Usually, four or five of these children will end up living in the same room – making the house itself not conducive for studying. Town life is totally different from village life. Not only do they have to learn how to live independently, they also have a culture-shock. Yes, even though it’s just two hours away by boat from their own village, there is still a difference in culture. In the town, there is more diversity as many people come from different tribes. The children who grow up in the town are usually more developed, their education is slightly better and the town certainly offers more privilege, such as electricity and access of information. Also, they tend to have more bad habits such as smoking and drinking. The town kids consider the village kids as “provincial”. To be in the same social circle as the town kids, the village kids have to be as “cool” as them by following what they do. It usually ends up with these kids becoming addicted and getting into trouble then not being able to continue school.
There are different problems for the girls. For the village girls, it is a huge dream to go and live in the town, but this dream comes with its own issues. As we already know, the internet can be both a good and bad influence. With lack of knowledge and supervision, it unfortunately usually gives more on the bad side than the good. For the teen-aged girls, having a boyfriend is a dream. The internet makes this dream far easier to attain. Sadly, most of the time, it ends up with unprotected sex outside marriage and youth pregnancy. In the end, these girls have to give up their other dreams – the continuation of education and their dream job. The girls do have the chance to continue their education after giving birth, but not so many girls have the family support that allows it.
Last but not least, the quality of education in local towns is not necessarily better. The students, who don’t even have basic literacy and numeracy skills, are expected to learn many subjects beyond their level of education. To make sure that the students have the basic skills is a very hard task, so the teachers prefer to just follow the national curriculum whether or not the students are capable of keeping up. The curriculum expects the students to learn many things irrelevant for their future. Most of the teachers rarely “teach” in the class – they just come to the classroom and give tasks, not even bothering to make sure that the students understand what they should be doing. At the end of the day, within the education system, the most important thing is the mark on the report card, not the true level of the students. The students can pass the school exams if they give some gifts to their teachers.
For all of the above reasons, we are very optimistic with our choice to open our own High School. On 2020, we start the Senior High School programme, for which the major is Marine and Sustainable Tourism. It is something that is already close to their hearts and the knowledge will surely be a good fit for their futures. This is not only for the sake of their own future, but also for the future of their community. We open the High School programme with the support and permission from the Education Department of Raja Ampat. This means that we are able to offer a recognised school leaving certificate for our students.
Adolescence is a period of life with specific developmental needs and schooling process has a significant impact on the children development, both academically and societally. We want to make sure that our students, who have already been learning with us since Primary School, maintain their learning spirit and get the opportunity to develop themselves as they want – not what the system wants. With this opportunity, they don’t need to leave their island to continue their education. When they continue their education in the town, most of them cannot get rid out of bad influences. So, this programme makes it possible for us to be with them in the most important time of their self-development.
Contextual learning and individual approach always become our principles in teaching. We want to help our students to embrace their own uniqueness and lead them based on what they want to become in the future. Also, continuous practical learning that we do in daily basis really shapes their habit. It gives better result in making them brave to talk in English, even with the tourists. Many people here are usually shy to start a conversation with tourists, let alone to adequately communicate in English with them.
The Child Aid Papua High School also offers opportunity for our students to go to summer school in Bandung (West Java). This program will be focusing on improving their numeracy skills – which are really important for their present and future life. Innumeracy is a big issue here but the society does not see it as an important thing to be changed. Also, this program allows them to do great things in their school holiday time – not only to mastering numeracy skills but also having new experience on travelling outside the area.
In the end of their High School programme, our students will also get a great opportunity to take on internship positions. Not only locally in the region but also outside the area of Raja Ampat or even better, going abroad. With our connection, it should be possible for our graduates to get a good job opportunity after they finish school. Nowadays, many tourism operators still prefer to employ people from outside the area. This programme hopefully can change that fact. Our graduates have big opportunity to be the local future leaders in the region.