Autonomy Watch: Berau prioritizes infrastructure, education
The Berau regency administration in East Kalimantan has placed infrastructure development at the top of its priority list. This would include building additional education facilities.
Prioritizing education is said to be in line with administration’s campaign to meet the 12-year mandatory schooling program across the region, including in remote areas.
Upon completing the 12-year program, students are encouraged to pursue higher education, for which the administration provides scholarship aid to talented students, such as in the case of Irma Sulianti.
The 17-year-old student currently studies on scholarship at the Berau Agricultural Vocational School in Tanjung Redep. She resides at the school’s dormitory with hundreds of other students from remote areas in Kalimantan.
Irma comes from Lempake, Biatan district, which is located around 40 kilometers away.
Berau Education Agency head Rohaini said dormitory occupants were exempted from paying rent thanks to assistance from the local administration and Berau Coal, a coal mining company in East Kalimantan.
“Students also receive scholarship and supporting educational facilities from Berau Coal as part of its corporate social responsibility program,” Rohaini recently told The Jakarta Post.
He said the local administration was also working together with Berau Coal to build five other dormitories for students so youths from remote areas could pursue their education.
Based on the 2010 population census Berau is inhabited by 179,444 people. Spanning 34,127 square kilometers, it is one of the 13 regencies in East Kalimantan directly bordering the Sulawesi Sea.
“Major issues for education here are the rough geographical conditions, which are hilly and covered by thousands of hectares of forest, and inferior infrastructure and transportation,” he said.
For example, in Benabaru village, Sambaliung district, Rohaini said students would have had to walk over hills for hours to reach school, had Berau Coal not provided transportation for them.
The company has also provided school buses for students in Tumbit Melayu, Tumbit Dayak, Long Lanuk and Meraang villages.
Rohaini said the East Kalimantan provincial administration was currently building a number of roads to improve infrastructure, such as the southern highway which connects South Kalimantan and Tanjung Redep, Berau, the central highway connecting Samarinda and Central Kalimantan and the northern highway linking Samarinda with Malinau and Nunukan.
It has also planned to build a toll road connecting Balikpapan, Samarinda and Bontang.
“The roads are expected to encourage more students in Berau to pursue their studies in Balikpapan and Samarinda,” Rohaini said.