Jayapura, Jubi – Elementary School teacher Stefanus Zondegau says the school where he teaches, the YPPK Bilogai Elementary School, has reopened teaching and learning activities, which had been suspended for a long time due to the armed conflict in Intan Jaya Regency, Papua. Teaching and learning activities at the elementary school located in the Sugapa District have started on January 17, 2022.
The process of reopening school began with parents cleaning the YPPK Bilogai Elementary School building and yard on January 10.
“Before starting our teaching and learning activities, we clean the school environment. Ever since shootings occurred between the Indonesian Military (TNI) and Police and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), school activities have been completely paralyzed. We clean the schoolyard so that the children can return to school,” said Zondegau when contacted by telephone on Tuesday, March 1, 2022.
According to Zondegau, most of the schools in Intan Jaya were closed, and the teachers fled to Nabire, Timika, or Paniai. Until now, the teachers of YPPK Bilogai Elementary School have not returned. Therefore, since January 17, Zondegau has taught with the assistance of Pastor Silvester Dogomo.
“All schools, whether elementary, junior high and high school have not opened. Currently, Pastor Silvester Dogomo and I are trying to reopen the YPPK Bilogai Elementary School. Only Pastor Silvester Dogomo and I teach grades 1 to 6. We are still here, waiting and expecting [other teachers] to arrive,” he said.
Zondegau said that if the armed conflict continued, Intan Jaya Regency could lose its golden generation because the education there was neglected. It is this awareness that has made Zondegau seeks to reopen teaching and learning activities in his school.
“Intan Jaya’s future generation must be able to compete later. If we let [armed conflict and learning halt] continue, it will destroy Intan Jaya’s golden generation,” he said.
Zondegau said the number of YPPK Bilogai students was 354 students but not all students had returned to school. “Since we opened the school in January, more than 200 students have attended,” he said.
Zondegau said many students from YPPK Bilogai Elementary School were still in refugee camps. He hopes that the Intan Jaya Administration will find a way so that students in Intan Jaya can return to school.
“If the children are not returning to Intan Jaya Regency, they will not go to school in the refugee camps. That’s even more ironic because they are safe there, but their right to education is not being fulfilled. It’s a shame,” said Zondegau.
Head of the Intan Jaya Student Association in Jayapura Yanuarius Weya said the Intan Jaya Administration must find a way to restore teaching and learning activities to all schools. “We have to move quickly to return teachers and refugees home,” he said.
Weya said that the Intan Jaya generation must be saved from the conflict in Intan Jaya. “We as students are part of the agents of change, we will continue to monitor all parties to make Intan Jaya better in the future,” he said. (*)
Reporter: Hengky Yeimo
Editor: Aryo Wisanggeni G