Financial difficulties are currently holding up much-needed renovation work to hundreds of elementary schools in Central Java.
Pinning their hopes on the limited budgets of each region, the schools are required to join the long waiting list of other parties also seeking government funding.
Elementary school SD Negeri 1 Kemutug Lor in Kemutug village, Baturaden district, Banyumas regency, Central Java was recently renovated with help from Dutch tourists. (JP/Agus Maryono)
However, elementary school SD Negeri 1 Kemutug Lor in Kemutug village, Baturaden district, Banyumas regency, Central Java, has already be able to rebuild its classrooms with help from a Dutch organization.
Since 2004, this school, which is located in the Baturaden tourist area, has enjoyed financial aid from the Tileng Foundation from the Netherlands.
"Until now the aid has totaled about Rp 600 million. The money has been used to renovate all the school's buildings, provide scholarships for poor pupils and pay the teachers' salaries," said Hidayaturrohman, the principal of the school.
The salaries of the teachers at the school are the highest in Central Java: Aside from their regular government salary, the teachers at the school each receive an additional payment of Rp 500,000 per month from the Tileng Foundation.
"Thanks to the aid from the Tileng Foundation, our school can make progress and the teachers remain enthusiastic," Hidayaturrohman told The Jakarta Post.
He said his school could enjoy significant financial aid from the Dutch foundation thanks to the success of a tour-guide venture in Baturaden that gave Dutch tourists the opportunity to make a donation to the school.
"Tekad (Santosa), in particular, is the pioneer ... without him, it would have been difficult for this school to have made such progress," said Hidayaturrohman.
Tekad Santosa is one of the tour guides in Baturaden who assists Dutch tourists to the area. Tekad successfully established good relations with Dutch tourists and encouraged them to donate to the educational sector in his village.
"The Dutch tourists could see that we really needed funding to improve education, particularly in the elementary school here," said Tekad, who is also a member of the executive board of the Baturaden Tourism Society Association.
Tekad, who said that he had been a guide in Baturaden for 20 years, told the Post he became acquainted with a Dutch tourist in 2000 who happened to be the chairman of a social foundation: Tileng.
"This foundation, among other things, provided funding for the educational sector in Indonesia. I then took the initiative to propose that it should also help the education in Baturaden," Tekad said.
The first school that he and his fellow guides in Baturaden proposed to receive aid from the Tileng Foundation was SD I Kemutug Lor. Tekad said he himself attended this school but was unable to finish his studies due to lack of finances.
"I did not finish my elementary school education. I don't want this to happen to my children," he said.
Together with the local tourism association and the school, Tekad drew up a proposal and sent it to the Netherlands.
"The proposal was accepted. In 2004, we received about Rp 200 million for the rehabilitation of our elementary school building."
The building, which originally had only six rooms, now has 8 large rooms. Three more rooms, for the headmaster, the library and a hall, are in the process of being built.
"All the funding comes from the Tileng Foundation. This is voluntary aid," Tekad said.
The school now teaches English and Dutch.
"We hire a teacher from outside to teach English. As for Dutch, Pak Tekad himself teaches this language to the students in the form of songs in Dutch," Hidayaturrohman said.
"Dutch is difficult. English is easier. But I like it, it's funny," said Siti, a fifth grader at the school. Siti said she was happy because her teacher and Pak Tekad took her and her classmates for a Baturaden forest tour every week.
"Yes, we take them to the forest to improve their environmental education," said Slamet, a physical education teacher at the school.