International early education center established in remote area
Fikri Zaki Muhammadi
The Jakarta Post
East Bali Cashews (EBC), the island's first large-scale and environmentally friendly cashew processing facility, on Thursday inaugurated its early learning center (PAUD) to offer children within the rural Ban village a comprehensive pre-elementary school education.
Located around 90 kilometers from the glamorous multimillion dollar hotels and prosperity of southern Bali, the early learning center ' named AnaKardia Kids from the combination of the Indonesian word for children, anak, and the Latin of cashews, Anacardium ' aims to give mothers who work at the factory a chance to focus on their jobs without having to think of their children's early education.
It was EBC founder, Aaron Fishman, an American entrepreneur who focuses on rural development, who coined the idea after the recent expansion of the factory, which has successfully created around 215 new jobs, 85 percent of which are for women who have never held formal employment prior to the company's launch in 2012.
Asked why he had established the early learning center, Fishman said, 'Obviously education is important and the children here deserve it.'
AnaKardia Kids currently has 15 children and plans to accommodate a total of 60 students, primarily aged between two and six years old. It currently employs 10 teachers, each of whom works with teachers from Cognita's Stamford American International School in Singapore to develop lesson plans.
The lessons employ a learn-through-play approach, encompassing educational toys and materials, many of which have been donated by the school's teachers, students and families.
Teachers from the school in Singapore said that they were happy to help build the village through education.
'Hopefully we've been very helpful. We look forward to doing something like this again,' they said.
Fishman said it cost his team around Rp 20,000 (US$1.74) per day per student to provide eight hours of study, as well as breakfast, lunch and snacks for the children.
'We wanted the community to engage in this as well, so we actually charge the people Rp 5,000 ['¦] So it's not totally free,' he added, saying it was a way to make the students come every day and the parents help share responsibility for developing the center.
US Ambassador to Indonesia Robert Blake presided over the inauguration and said that the opening showed the positive impact of US investment in Indonesia.
'Aaron Fishman has shown the power of the individual and the power of innovation to see an opportunity in a local community and develop something from it,' Blake said.
He said that Fishman managed to build human and social capital in the village, which were essential components of development.
'It's a wonderful and unique story because it shows that it's possible to bring prosperity and social development to every corner of Indonesia,' Blake said. 'And I think this can be replicated on a very wide scale to other parts of eastern Indonesia.'
Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika, who was represented by Bali Plantation Agency head I Dewa Made Buana Duwuran, lauded the opening, saying that it had helped the province educate youths in remote areas of Bali.
'Many efforts have been made to support cashew production in Bali, including area expansion, land optimization, provision of processing facilities and infrastructure,' Pastika said.
According to Fishman, the company currently produced 500 tons of cashews per year. It plans to triple production this year and reach 3,000 tons within the next two years, giving the village more potential to boost its economy.
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