Jayapura, Jubi – The number of active teachers in Papua is very lacking, especially in areas where the population is predominantly Indigenous Papuan.
Agriculture lecturer of University of Papua Agus Sumule said the distribution of teachers in Papua was not equal, with fewer teachers in areas where Indigenous Papuan lived, compared to areas inhabited by non-Papuan people.
In Papua Province, the shortage of teachers includes 7,038 elementary school teachers, 3,973 junior high school teachers, 1,217 high school teachers, and 1,162 vocational teachers. This shortage is aggravated by the number of teachers who will retire, which is 1,250 people.
Meanwhile, in West Papua Province, there is a shortage of 2,313 elementary teachers, 1,429 junior high teachers, 747 high school teachers, 514 vocational school teachers, while 504 teachers will retire.
“It is estimated that the shortage of teachers is more than 30,000,” said Sumule.
Sumule said that until 2019, the number of teachers actively teaching were the least in Jayawijaya, Cental Mamberamo, Yahukimo, Yalimo, Nduga, Tolikara, Lanny Jaya, Bintang Mountains, Paniai, Deiyai, Dogiyai, Intan Jaya, Puncak Jaya, and Puncak. In these areas, there is a shortage of 427 kindergarten teachers, 4,076 elementary teachers, 1,916 junior high teachers, 917 high school teachers, and 430 vocational school teachers.
“Such a phenomenon shows that many teachers who are placed by the government in these areas are absent from their assignments. A UNICEF study in 2012 showed that 30 percent of teachers in Papua and West Papua were absent from teaching,” said Sumule.
He went on to say that teacher education programs were needed more than ever to address the shortage of teachers in Papua.
“On the other hand, the government must also attend the need of other functions such as administrative staff, librarians, information technology specialists, and improve school infrastructures such as school buildings, offices, electricity, toilets, clean water, and internet networks,” he said.
According to Sumule, those who are trained to become professional teachers should be young Indigenous Papuans who meet the requirements and recruited from areas that lack teachers. The recruitment process must also involve religious and traditional institutions. Thus, teachers are truly the people who have a calling to teach, and they will feel at home working in the field as classroom teachers, community teachers, and “congregational” teachers.
A teacher named Felisa said there were actually many people willing to teach in the interior of Papua. However, there must be security guarantees for the teacher.
“Actually, many people want it but sometimes our efforts are not appreciated. We want to be present in the interior but who can survive the terror? We don’t want to return to our hometown with only names,” she said.
Felisa told a story of when she taught at Inpres Suntamon Elementary School in Yahukimo Regency in 2018. She was contracted through the Smart Indonesia Foundation program. She and her other five friends only lasted a year teaching there.
“At that time, suddenly there was a group of people who plotted to expel us when the leader in the area was not there,” she said.
According to Felisa, during the year she served to teach in Yahukimo, the people were very kind and friendly. The people often brought them vegetables and sweet potatoes. However, due to security reasons, Felisa and her friends decided not to return to teaching at the school.
Felisa currently teaches Counseling Guidance at YPPK Teruna Bakti Junior High School in Waena.
“They (the community in Yahukimo) asked us to come back but we did not because we were afraid something bad would happen to us,” she said. (*)
Reporter: Theo Kelen