Volunteers help teach illiterate child laborers
An open learning class for child laborers in Badung traditional market in Denpasar has been supported by more volunteer teachers.
Every month, there are always volunteer groups from schools, universities and companies to help teach the illiterate children.
On Friday, some volunteers from fashion company Surfer Girl came to the class to teach dozens of little girls who work as porters at the market.
The Surfer Girl volunteer group consisted of employees from different levels, including designers and store managers. It was the eighth time they had been to the class, located on the fourth floor of the market.
“This is part of our company’s Care, Share and Respect program, in which we contribute to social programs,” said Jennifer Jacob from the company’s visual merchandise division.
She has been teaching twice a week for 18 weeks.
“We teach in accordance to their needs, such as reading and writing. For these children, who can earn money, going to school is not important ,” she said.
They have been careless about studying, so they need support to do that, she added.
She teaches the children alongside her colleagues, including Mang Ani, store manager of Bali Surf Nusa Dua, and Brent, a training manager from Australia.
Brent was seen teaching the children how to write and pronounce the English alphabet. The children listened and followed his every word.
During the last several weeks, only the girls have joined the classes scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays. “The boys have been absent because they work as seasonal clove pickers,” said Putu Puspa, a permanent teacher from Lentera Anak Bali (LAB), a local NGO that is concerned about child protection.
She hoped that after the clove harvesting season ended, the boys would return to class.
There were only two permanent teachers from LAB. So the class needs more volunteers to help teach the children, who have diverse backgrounds and intellectual ability.
Puspa noted that there were 60 students registered for the class, but not all of them could come to study. “Some of the boys in the class, who used to be beggars, are now construction workers,” Puspa said.
According to LAB data, two years ago there were 100 child laborers in the market. The girls worked as porters, while the boys were beggars. Most of them were illiterate or had dropped out of elementary school.
One of the students, 13-year-old Ni Ketut Tiwik from Karangasem, said she had been joining the class for almost a year. She is now able to write her own personal details.
“It’s important for them to be able to read and write as part of the effort to stop child labor, although it is a long process,” said psychiatrist Anak Ayu Sri Wahyuni, the founder of LAB.
She said the illiterate child laborers were prone to exploitation and early marriage, so it was important to give them access to education.
According to data from the Bali administration, 335,163 Balinese people are illiterate, 14.5 percent, or 48,505 people, are aged between 25 to 44 years old.
Those aged 15 to 24 years old amounted to 2.4 percent, or 7,995 people, while those above 44 years old accounted for 83 percent or 278,708 people.
“The new rooms will be made available by hotels already established in the compound, as well as new hotels that include the Shangri-La, JW Marriot, the Centara Grand, Mercure and the Royal Kamuela.”