Viola Purinirwana, a fourth grader at SD 010157 Sei Muka elementary school in Talawi district, Batu Bara regency, North Sumatra, looked confident when telling a folklore tale before her classmates.
“The moral of the story is that a mother is the one that you have to glorify and whose feelings and heart have to be respected.” Viola said as she ended her story.
She said she have been developing storytelling skills for two years thanks to training offered by volunteers.
The headmaster of the school, Dumalena Sianturi, said the training offered by third-party organizations, such as NGOs and foundation, was crucial given the limited budget provided by the regional administration.
“Our school has been facing difficulties in improving education quality here because of a limited budget,” Dumalena told The Jakarta Post at the school which is located 25 kilometers from the regency capital city.
The sentiment was shared by Aida, the Headmaster of SD 010152 Sei Muka elementary school.
She said assistance by NGOs helped the school in numerous achievements. Recently, the school won first place in the regency’s library management competition for the elementary school category, thanks to the school’s partnership with Tanoto Foundation.
Batu Bara Education Agency head Yandi Siswandi acknowledged that the regency’s budget in the education sector was below the ideal 20 percent of the total budget.
“The education budget this year was only six percent of the regency budget of Rp1,1 trillion,” Yandi said.
As a result, he said, the regency was struggling to improve the average teacher quality index in Batu Bara, which stood at 4.7, far below the minimum national standard of 6.5.
“This is very concerning because almost 85 percent of the teachers here hold only an under-graduate degree,” he said.
He said assistance from the NGOs, such as in the form of book donation or training, was important to help compensate for the low budget and to improve the quality of the teachers and education in general.
Yusnita Saragih, a teacher at SD 118315 Perkebunan Negeri Lama elementary school in Labuhanbatu regency, said she felt grateful to have had the opportunity to join a training program and receive a scholarship offered by a foundation this year.
However, she also expressed disappointment over the government paying “poor attention” to teachers working in remote areas.
“Sometimes I wanted to cry because it seemed like third-party organizations cared about us more than the government,” said the honorarium based teacher who has been teaching for 13 years in a school located 45 km from the regency capital city.
One foundation that regularly offers assistance and training to schools in the province is Tanoto Foundation.
Established in 1981, the foundation aims to support poverty eradication in Indonesia through education, empowerment and life quality improvement programs.
Tanoro Foundation’s North Sumatra regional program manager Yusri Nasution said one of the foundation’s programs in the education sector was Pelita Pendidikan. It was launched in 2010 and is implemented in 103 schools across the province.
The article was published in The Jakarta Post, August 29, 2107.