Yayasan Emmanuel has helped over 5,000 children and individuals each month through 7 programmes focusing on education, homes, and community services.

The Issue

According to the World Bank and Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry for People’s Welfare and Poverty Eradication, the number of people living under the poverty line - those earning USD 1 per day or less - has doubled after the 1998 crisis to over 40 million. The result is that parents can simply no longer afford to put their children through primary and junior secondary schools.

Young Indonesians who drop out of school before completing junior secondary education (middle school) find themselves more prone to unemployment, are at a higher risk of obtaining less secure work, and are likely to earn much less later in life. Compared to the national unemployment rate of 10.4%, around 71% of out of school 15-18 year olds are unemployed.

Despite Indonesia’s Constitution Law No. 2/1989 and Law. No. 20/2003 that states that 9 years of formal education is compulsory for every citizen, cost of participation in education remains the primary cause for students dropping out from basic education. Only 54% of the population of school age children is enrolled in secondary schools, and according to the International Labour Organization’s 2006 survey, 33% of these students left school before completing junior secondary education. According to the Indonesian Ministry of National Education’s 2004-2005 statistics, there are currently 50.4 million students enrolled in primary and secondary schools. Taking into account the current dropout rate, this would imply that approximately 16.6 million students are at risk or have left school before completing their junior secondary education.

Although some effort to provide financial aid has been made in 2006 by the government’s Bantuan Operasional Sekolah (BOS: Aid for School Operations) for primary and junior secondary school students, the system has been implemented with limited success. This aid, focused mainly on monthly tuition, seems to be sporadic at best with some schools obtaining BOS while others not receiving any financial support. A few schools that did receive BOS lost their aid in a few months time. Most importantly, BOS rarely covers the costs for entrance fees, registration costs, schoolbooks, uniforms and either semester or national exam fees. All of these non-monthly tuition expenses cost as much if not more then twelve months of tuition fees. Especially expensive are the entrance fees and schoolbooks. Therefore, although BOS is a welcome step forward in the government’s efforts to improve access to education, it is at this point, far from being a complete and viable solution.

For parents who are unable to cope with the increasing demand on falling living standards and already have difficulty affording adequate food, prospects of their children continuing formal education has become increasingly bleak. The result is that children often end up with ten to twelve months of debt at their school and are eventually forced out of the educational system. This is evident by an increasing pool of unemployed young people, many of whom are undereducated and unskilled, sharply reducing their employability. The rising number of uneducated young people threatens to create a “lost generation,” ensuring that the fallout of the current crisis will endure for generations.

Throughout the history of Yayasan Emmanuel (YE), the foundation has grown and adapted to better address perceived needs. Whereas up to this point in the foundation's history the assistance has all been in helping students gain access to education, the school system, and in providing services as a supplement to classroom instruction, YE wishes to address needs within the classroom as the newest phase of its overall programme. Through observation of the teaching methodologies of teachers in the five hundred schools YE supports, it has become apparent that the pedagogy of the Indonesian classroom has fallen several decades behind that of classrooms in many other parts of the world.

The educational emphasis in the majority of Indonesian schools is on rote learning. The teacher feeds information to the children who write it down, memorize facts, and regurgitate them when tested. As a result, children are finishing school with severely limited critical thinking skills which puts them at a great disadvantage when compared to graduates in other countries who have been taught with methodologies that develop their critical thinking skills.

Another area of concern within the classroom is the actual physical condition of the classroom. A 2002-2003 UNESCO study found that only 42.5 percent of the 370,700 primary school classrooms in Indonesia could be listed as in good condition. 34.4 percent were ranked fair, and 23.1 percent were ranked bad. It is very difficult for the student or the teacher to be at their best when well over half of the schools are not in good condition. With this in mind, starting in the 2008 academic year, YE will not only continue its support of access to education for under-privileged children but also strive to improve the quality of education that these children receive in their respective schools.

These serious and urgent problems need to be addressed by promoting greater access to education, increased training opportunities to young people, and improvement of the quality of education found in schools throughout the country. This would not only help the youth concerned, but would be an effective investment in the future of Indonesia’s economy and society.