Community looks for volunteers to inspire Thousand Islands pupils
Sita W. Dewi
The Jakarta Post
A community focusing on education for underprivileged pupils in Jakarta has introduced a three-day voluntary teaching program in Thousand Islands regency aimed at motivating students living there.
The Komunitas Inspirasi Jelajah Pulau, which literally translates into island explorers' inspirational community, is set to launch its project, the third of its kind, in which volunteers from different backgrounds can share experiences and dreams with the students.
The project is scheduled to be held from March 29-31 on six different islands in the regency but the recruitment process for the volunteers will start in February. It will be held in elementary schools on the islands of Pramuka, Lancang, Harapan, Pari, Kelapa and Panggang.
Community spokeswoman Rona Uli Pasaribu said that despite being part of Jakarta, development in Thousand Islands regency lagged behind the capital's five municipalities. 'The islands are only two hours away from Jakarta but development is 20 years behind. Most of the students we encountered during the first and second projects did not even know they were part of Jakarta. A student even asked what language people used in Yogyakarta!' Rona told The Jakarta Post.
'The worst part is the fact that the students don't read books because they have not been nurtured to love reading,' she added.
Despite the limitations, Rona said children who were born and raised in the regency actually had great potential. 'They have been raised on islands where they can explore and play in the sea. They only have limited access to information about the outside world because their only reference is television,' she said.
Rona recalled that during the first project, most the students she encountered told her they wanted to become either a teacher or soccer player because those were the only professions they knew.
'I asked them if they had a chance to go on a trip, where would they want to go? They said they wanted to go to [Muara] Angke [in North Jakarta],' she said.
She also lamented that despite being a popular tourist destination, Thousand Islands regency did not benefit much from tourism, socially or culturally. 'Tourists come and go but they do not really interact with the locals nor is there a positive information exchange that empowers the society,' she claimed.
The Komunitas Inspirasi Jelajah Pulau project, introduced in April 2014, was actually a spin-off of the Kelas Inspirasi (inspirational class) program initiated by Indonesia Mengajar (Teach for Indonesia), which was founded by Culture and Elementary and Secondary Education Minister Anies Baswedan when he was the rector of Paramadina University.
While Kelas Inspirasi only allows volunteers one day to interact with students from low-income families in different cities across the country, the Jelajah Pulau program provides three days for each project because of the remoteness of the location and limited access.
More than 100 volunteers from various professions ranging from doctors, engineers, bankers and journalists took part in the first two projects in the Thousand Islands held in April and August last year.
Novi Safitri, a Jakarta-based editor, acknowledged that she did not expect to find that the children living in the regency had such limited dreams. 'They are very expressive but they don't dream big. I felt grateful for the opportunity to join the project. I hope we inspired them to dream bigger just like they inspired us to do better,' she said.
Information about the project is available at the Facebook account of Komunitas Inspirasi Jelajah Pulau, Twitter account @JelajahPulauID, Instagram account KIjelajahpulau and website jelajahpulauID.org.
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