Education for children in the traditional villages around Bajawa.

door | 14 jan 2021 | Flores, Gastblog, Onderwijs | 0 Reacties

Auteur: Pauly Ossenblok
Ik heb het geluk gehad dat ik altijd heb kunnen werken binnen mijn vakgebied, de medische fysica, met de focus op 'brain imaging'. Daarnaast reis ik graag en veel, vooral in Indonesië. Bij mijn reizen door Indonesië kwam ik in aanraking met de meest uiteenlopende projecten. Veelal kleinschalige initiatieven om samen met de lokale bevolking de wereld een beetje beter te maken. Mijn verslag hiervan op deze website past goed bij "Bale Tereng", een organisatie die gericht is om op lokaal niveau, daar waar het nodig is, hulp te verlenen.

Volg de link https://bale-tereng.nl/onderwijs-voor-kinderen-in-de-traditionele-dorpen-rond-bajawa/ voor de Nederlandstalige versie van de blog.

The work of voluntary organizations working closely with the local population can make all the difference. Like for the children in the traditional villages around Bajawa, who have a chance of a bright future thanks to that support. 

Flores is the only island of Indonesia that mainly has a Christian population. It is known to tourists for the Komodo dragon, which lives on the small islands off the coast of Labuan Bajo. Mainly backpackers travel via the only winding mountain road from the east of Flores via Ende – for a visit to Kelimutu volcano – and via Bajawa to Labuan Bajo. We took the bus, which was quite an adventure! After hours of waiting we succeeded in negotiating a place wedged between the locals in the backseat of the bus. It was already dark when we reached Bajawa. Here we were welcomed at a quite basic hotel by Tuzla, a boy with a club foot. In the Western world, this congenital anomaly does not lead to a lifelong disability, but in Indonesia it does, at least at that time. Tuzla managed well. He spoke some English – learned from tourists – which gave him an edge over his fellow villagers. He arranged for our breakfasts and outings, such as trips to the traditional villages around Bajawa, a job which helped him to survive.

We visited (in 2006) the most well-known of the traditional villages: Bena and Wogo. The villages have more or less the same shape; the houses face each other in two rows and in the center is a clearing where the ancestors of the villagers are buried.

Flores village partners

Bajawa is located in the Ngada district. The traditional villages around Bajawa are high up in the mountains and can only be reached via muddy unpaved paths. When Flores village Partners (https://www.fvp.org.au/)  in 2007 started providing aid to the villages everything was lacking. There was not enough food, no access to running water and little or no access to health care or education. Flores village Partners is a Christian and Australian non-governmental volunteer organization. Thanks to this organization, three of the traditional villages around Bajawa (Zeu, Nio and Wawa) now have a primary school, giving 250 children the opportunity to get an education and build a better future. Flores village Partners is not only building the schools, but also takes responsibility for maintenance, infrastructure and the education and salaries of the teachers. The education plan is developed by Australian education specialists who work with the Indonesian curriculum. Peter Sanders is one of those specialists who was on site at the time of my visit to Flores (in 2018) to train the teachers. I visited the primary school in Nio with him and Moses Jala, who works as aid project coordinator for Flores village Partners. We were welcomed by the children with singing and dancing.

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Moses has a special bond with the traditional villages around Bajawa, he was born and raised in one of those villages. By taking advantage of the arrival of the first tourists – who he took to the traditional villages around Bajawa – and taking all kinds of jobs, Moses was able to finish high school. He eventually completed his Master’s in Australia and returned to Flores. His heart is in what is the key to the future of Flores, the improvement of basic education in the villages.

More is being done!

It is not only Flores Village Partners who is supporting the children in the traditional villages of Flores. There are several initiatives and fortunately they work together, including with Face This, an organization that is committed to creating better education for underprivileged children in Indonesia (https://facethis.org/). Moses is the contact for Face This on Flores. Moses, Peter and I visited the SDK PUSU primary school, which was renovated with the support of Face This. The welcome was superb and, as usual in Flores, guests were welcomed with music and dancing.

Pak (Mr.) Barnabass, the village chief of PUSU is talking here with Peter and Moses at the welcome ceremony (left), under the watchful eye of the local authorities (right).

What a great experience, the whole village was present to celebrate the arrival of the guests of Face This. First there was the overwhelming welcome, then the consultation of all villagers, more music and dance and then of course the food. A complete picture of the visit, of the difficult and now in the rainy season sometimes even dangerous journey to the school, of the welcome with music and dance of the children and of the village meeting can be seen on the following video.

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Primary education alone is not sufficient for a brighter future for the children of Flores and secondary education is expensive. The villages are located high in the mountains, far from Bajawa, where the schools are. The cost of school fees, learning materials and the transport to Bajawa is far above the budget of most parents. The Dutch foundation Flores Schoolproject (https://floresschoolproject.nl/), an organization that closely collaborates with Flores village partners, focuses on financially supporting these children. Children with sufficient talent and motivation to learn, but whose parents do not have the financial means, are given the opportunity to pursue secondary education in Bajawa and build, like Moses, a bright future.

With thanks to Peter Sanders, who provided the video of our visit to PUSU and the photograph of a student living in one of the traditional villages. 

A better future through education

There is a need for a better educated ‘next generation’ of people on Flores. Schools are being built and non-governmental organizations are facilitating education for the children of the traditional villages around Bajawa.  The Indonesian government participates and supports the schools with teaching materials and budget to pay the monthly salaries of teachers. But this is not enough to make the schools set up by Flores village partners completely self-sufficient. There is also a need for medically trained personnel to eliminate the need for large-scale health care programs such as treating children with a hare lip, clubfoot or elderly people who may become blind. Improvement of the education and healthcare system, together with the reorganization of the water management on Flores, will significantly improve the living conditions of the inhabitants of the traditional villages in Flores. That is what Flores village partners aims at.

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