2) In Papua, Education at the Forefront in Long Battle for Peace
1) Fiji – Indonesia talks no mention about West Papua
Taken from/By: FBC News Report by: Christopher Chand
Fiji and Indonesia are further enhancing their bilateral relations following the first state visit by their Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.
However no mention was made about the issue of West Papua and their application to become a member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
In a statement to the media after the meeting Marsudi says she held fruitful talks with both
Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and Minister for Women Rosy Akbar.
“My visit here is to reflect again the friendship, the good cooperation between Fiji and Indonesia and I had very fruitful discussions with the Foreign Minister and I just finished my fruitful discussion also with the Minister for Women first we discussed how to strengthen cooperation and women empowerment and I enjoy being in Fiji”
Fiji and Indonesia have discussed ways to enhance economic cooperation, capacity building and technical assistance.
They have agreed that as part of Indonesia’s greater engagement in the MSG they would intensify communication on issues relating to the MSG.
A joint statement said they would promote regular consultations, contacts and exchange visits between Indonesia and MSG members.
Marsudi’s visit to Fiji completes her three country tour to the Pacific islands.
She visited Papua New Guine and Solomon Islands before coming to Fiji.
Marsudi departed this afternoon.
Eko has been placed in a special program established by the school for fifth-graders who are academically more advanced than their peers. While children in the regular scheme go home at noon, Eko and several other gifted students spend four additional hours at school to cover extra material.
The program, which is fully funded by the Lanny Jaya district office, also requires the students to live in a dormitory located some 10 meters away from campus.
“I want to become a professor — an engineering professor,” Eko told the Jakarta Globe during a visit to the school with Wahana Visi Indonesia on Wednesday.
Located in the Middle Mountains some 2,000 meters above sea level, Lanny Jaya district is said to be a hot spot for the separatist Free Papua Organization (OPM).
Christian Sohilait, secretary of the district office, acknowledged that separatist activity was among the area’s top three challenges — after education development and HIV/AIDS.
He acknowledges that Wiyawage subdistrict has long been the base of operations for the separatist outfit.
In August last year, a group of people believed to have been from the OPM fired shots at Christian and his team as they were traveling back from Wamena district. Nobody was killed in the attack but a police officer was injured.
Shallow pool of human resources
“When a gun attack happens, it can disrupt village activities for a whole day,” Christian says.
“Psychological after-effects from the attacks linger for some time, especially for the non-Papuan teachers who are here doing the SM3T program,” he adds, referring to the obligatory, state-funded teaching certification program for university students pursuing a career as a full-time, government-listed teacher.
During the one-year program, these young prospective teachers are based in regions across the archipelago categorized as the least developed and located in the most remote areas.
Lanny Jaya is among the program’s many destinations to support the region’s shallow pool of human resources for the field of education.
Non-Papuan teachers are especially needed to filter out the separatist doctrines seeping into local schools.
Christian, who previously headed the education office in Lanny Jaya, claims district officials have discovered that 24 local teachers are members of the OPM.
“There was a plan to brainwash children [with the group's vision] through schools,” he says, adding that he has personally been in contact with fighters from the OPM on several occasions.
“What I did was I suspended the teachers’ salaries and told them that if they wanted their pay back, they’d have to commit fully to educating the children upon their return,” he says.
When it comes to developing the education system in Lanny Jaya, Christian says he refused to surrender to the separatist movement’s threats and decided to create the Tiom Elementary School and the program for academically gifted students.
“To me, the OPM is just a temporary problem because the attacks don’t happen every day,” he says, noting that since 2011 the OPM has waged six gun battles with the Indonesian Military (TNI) and police. A total of six police officers were killed and 14 guns confiscated during the clashes.
“But illiteracy threatens these people every single day,” Christian says.
Data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) show that in 2011, only 37 percent of Lanny Jaya residents aged 15 to 24 years old were able to read, a marginal increase from 36.7 percent the previous year.
Lanny Jaya this year received a regional budget of Rp 1.2 trillion ($92 million). About 20 to 30 percent of that will be set aside for education development in the district, which is home to 214,000 people, according to Christian.
Efforts by the Lanny Jaya district administration to boost education include building a science center for the Tiom Elementary School in late 2013, which boasts 12 computers — a donation made by one of the office’s private partners.
“Our goal is to be a model of developed education for schools in the Middle Mountain area by 2016,” Christian says.
“Our dream is for every single child here to be able to read, write and count. And for Lannny Jaya to be the educational model for other districts in Papua.”
Different districts, same problem
In another district in Papua’s Middle Mountains, located just 100 kilometers from Lanny Jaya, fifth-grader Gustaf Adolf shares a similar situation with Eko.
Studying at the Maima Advent Elementary School in Asolokobal, Jayawijaya district, Gustaf wishes for peace during times of fighting so that he can go to school and study his favorite subjects.
The Asolokobal village neighbors that of other Papuan tribes, including the Kurima, Wouma and Welesi.
The feuding between the different clans has often resulted in violence, with the latest conflict breaking out on Dec. 19 between the Asolokobal and the Kurima, which left three people dead and 70 injured. The fighting went on for weeks before both tribes eventually agreed to a truce on Jan. 6 with the help of the district police.
“I don’t really understand what exactly was happening but my parents told me not go to school,” says 11-year-old Gustaf.
“School should have started on January 5, but it was postponed for a week for our safety,” says Anie Joyce Nirupu, the Maima Advent principal. “Teachers were afraid to go to the school.”
Anie says the school will not skip any classes for its students despite losing a week’s worth of lessons.
“We acknowledge the challenges we face, but we don’t want to push the children if they’re not ready,” she says.
She adds she knows that there is nothing she can do when fighting breaks out between tribes, but says she realizes that she can at least teach her students to live in peace so that they will not be propagate the generations-long feuding in the area.
In early 2013, Anie decided to adopt an educational method introduced by Wahana Visi Indonesia for her school.
Pakima Hani Hano , which translates into “Unity Is Good and Beautiful,” combines up to 34 Papuan seeds of wisdom, including the tenet of living in harmony, to be taught to children at elementary schools.
“When I started implementing [the methodology], I urged my staff to always be the first to set an example,” Anie says.
She concedes to having no hard figures to prove the system has worked for the children, but claims the students always side with peace whenever she asks them how they feel after a clash between tribes.
“These kids are the future, and hopefully they won’t make the same mistakes their elders are committing now [by fighting],” Anie says.
“I don’t like war,” Gustaf says. “When it happens, I can’t go to school and play with my friends.”
The writer’s visit to Papua was facilitated by Wahana Visi Indonesia, a community empowerment NGO.