Remote school: The students of Basuhan Elementary School play in the foreground of the school during class break at Tanjung Hamlet, Wonogiri regency. The school has only 22 students. (JP/Kusumasari Ayuningtyas)
Sukatinah, 51, a teacher at state-run SDN IV Basuhan elementary school in the remote village of Tanjung, Eromoko district, Wonogiri, Central Java, smiled in relief as she finished presenting the results of the final exams of her three students to their respective parents over the weekend.
Although the school only had three six grade students to graduate, Sukatinah was happy because their exam results were relatively good considering the condition of the school. They had an average score of 7.9 for the three subjects of math, natural science and Indonesian.
“Their achievements are not disappointing although the educational facilities here are very limited,” Sukatinah told The Jakarta Post after meeting with the students’ parents on Saturday.
She said she took even more pride in last year’s exam results as they ranked the school in third position among the 43 elementary schools in Eromoko district, Wonogiri, with an average score of 8.06 from the six students that then graduated.
“We indeed have only a few students but their spirit to learn is as high as those students of other schools that have bigger numbers of students,” Sukatinah said.
SDN IV this year has only 22 students, comprising four first graders, five second graders, four third graders, six fourth graders and three sixth graders. This means that in the next academic year, no student will take a final exam as the school will not have any sixth grade students.
Having less than 60 students, the school would have to be merged with other nearby schools as stipulated by a regulation.
It is because, according to headmaster Sumadi, the fact that the distance between the two villages of Tanjung and Ngringin — where all the school’s students come from — and the three nearest schools was too far for an elementary school student to be reached either on foot or bicycle.
“We cannot just let the kids go to school by themselves if the school is grouped with any of the three schools. There are also many monkeys along the way to these schools,” Sumadi said.
At the same time, he added, it was also impossible to expect parents to take their kids to the school because most of them had to go to work as laborers. That accounted for why grouping was not a realistic choice for the school.
Despite this, the school finds it difficult to obtain funds from the government to meet its educational facility needs and to pay for the salaries of its teachers because of the limited number of students.
This, according to Sumadi, often forces teachers to collect money from their own pockets to meet the needs of the school, which currently has six civil servant teachers, three contract teachers and a school keeper. Even for a computer set and printer, the school borrows from teachers.
Established in 1984, the school previously received funds for remote schools, but for the past four years the money has not been forthcoming.
The 2009 special allocation fund (DAK) of Rp 70 million that the school received was spent on renovation. The school had been periodically submerged in floods of up to two meters deep during past rainy seasons.
“We really expect attention from the central government for the continuation of the education activities in this school. The students here have the same rights as those at other schools,” Sukatinah said.