Bridging drops out children with Papua Learning Movement
Jayapura, Jubi – “Mom leaves home for gardening at 5 in the morning when we are the children are still sleeping. When I woke up, I found out there was no breakfast, felt hungry but was already late. So what else should I do except going to school even though I am hungry? But I have to walk. After school, I must cook our lunch, just rice and it’s enough as long as we have salt and oil. They say it’s not good for our health…hahahaha (laughing), but I don’t care. My stomach is what I care more.”
This short article written by Eva, a girl from Jayapura who tells about her sister and her experience to be left home by their mother when she works in the garden and then sells their harvested crops in the market has posted on the blog “papuamengajar.blogspot. Eva is one of the dozens of children who attend the learning activity initiated by Gerakan Papua Mengajar (GPM – a teaching movement community).
At GPM, every child with a different background study in one room where they learn drawing, counting, listening folktales, reading, laughing and having fun together.
GPM is a voluntary based community that established in 2013 to provide free education for children from the low-income family. “We found many of dropout school children playing around the markets and terminals,” said Alex Giay, a teacher as well as one of the founders.
So far, GPM has accommodated free education for 65 children aged up to 15. They conduct learning activities in two locations, three days in Buper and three days in Kotaraja and open from 15.30 to 18.00 at Papua time. Children often learn on the porch of a house or church.
They also divide children into three learning groups. Level one is consisting of pre-school aged and first-grade children who generally illiterate. So that in this group, they learn basic maths and the alphabet.
Meanwhile, level two is for those who already know how to read and count but need to advance their skills. They are generally the first and third-grade elementary students. Then, those who have advanced reading and counting skills join the level three. They are mostly the pupils of fourth grade and junior high schools.
According to Giay, GPM is also a response to their concern towards the condition of children who become victims of urban development; their parents work whole days from morning till evening for a living which often left children without supervision. As a result, they become less educated. “We pay attention to suburban children who often marginalised from development,” he said.
As it is a voluntary based movement, teachers come from different backgrounds including fresh graduate and voluntarily teach the children. Sometimes, GPM invites journalists or writers to teach children how to write a poem, short stories or their experience.
Meanwhile, those who learn at GPM are not only dropped out of school children but also those who are still studying in formal schools like Elvius Wakur. This 13-year-old boy goes to SMP YPPK Padang Bulan from morning till mid-day and joins the class at GPM in the afternoon.
“Later I want to be a teacher so that I can teach children like my teachers of GPM,” said Elvius who admits he loves reading folktales and counting.
During their five years activities, Giay observed there is no serious action taken by the government such as rehabilitates drops out children to school. “So far the government has no special attention to drops out children, they focus more on formal education. Up to now, none of these children has returned to school,” he said.
It’s ironic to compare his statement with the achievement of Jayapura Municipal Government as child-friendly city awarded by the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment, Child Protection and Family Planning in a luxury place in Surabaya in July this year. (*)