• Bukit Lawang Trust

Education in Indonesia

Indonesia is the 4th most populated country in the world, it is rapidly developing, urbanisation and industrial development are on the rise and political and economical steps are being made in leaps and bounds.

However, there remains widespread inequality, particularly within the Education sector, and students Literacy, Mathematics and Science scores are well below the international average for education systems of similar kinds.

Under colonial rule, the Dutch largely neglected Education – it wasn’t until 1920 that the first Indonesian University opened. Post-independence there was initially shortage of teachers, as most of them had been Dutch or Japanese. However, Education was prioritised by the 1945 Constitution – which declared Education to be a Universal right, showing the countries commitment to displacing the inequalities created by colonialism.

Indonesia today has a 12-year Education system, with students starting school at 6 years old and graduating at the age of 18. Education is compulsory, however, all students over the age of 16 have to pay to attend school. On top of this, associated costs such as the price of uniform, books and bus fare, lead to a high dropout rate of students from impoverished families. It is estimated that only a third of student’s complete high school.

So how is the Bukit Lawang Trust helping?

We provide a free Kindergarten for students to ensure that our pupils can have the best start in life possible. Our Kindergarten teaches students the basics such as reading, writing and maths, as well as providing a fun environment in which our students learn to socialise and to get creative with many exciting activities, such as handicrafts. In Kindergarten, we also encourage basic health skills, providing toothbrushes and toothpaste for our students, as well as a weekly portion of fruit. Actions such as these and our annual trip are intended to ensure that all children here are given an equal opportunity, to be happy, healthy and well educated.

Our afternoon classes meanwhile are designed to complement the existing Education system here in Indonesia. As most students only attend state school in the mornings, by coming to us to learn English they are adding to their existing education. Many of our students have told us that they chose to learn English due to it being an ‘international language’. For our students here in Bukit Lawang, English can be especially useful due to the high tourist presence, so knowing English gives our students the extra edge over other applicants when it comes to looking for jobs!

As well as providing free Education, we also pay our students transport to and from school and do not require them to wear a uniform, thus reducing any financial burden on students. We also provide the students with books and pens, to ensure that every child has all the tools needed for learning.

We believe in Education for all and thus do not limit learning to under 18s. In our Advanced class we have several students who have left State Education for financial reasons and yet still come to us on a weekly basis – work allowing. We also run an adult class during the mornings, which enables the mothers of some of our Kindergarten students to learn English while their own children study. In the future we hope to expand our adult classes further.

We also believe that Climate change is the “greatest issue of our time” and therefore incorporate conservation aspects to all of our education where possible. It is our belief that Conservation and sustainability should be built into standard education and strive to ensure that this is the case in all of the education we deliver.

Our goal is to live up to the Indonesian dream of Universal and equal Education for all, regardless of gender, age, religion or any other factor and all of our sponsors and donors bring us one step closer to making this dream a reality.

Thanks for reading,

Rosie Plummer - Head of Education

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