The Banyuwangi regency administration is pushing ahead with both educational and COVID-19 mitigation programs with its most recent move to award scholarships to pandemic-affected students.
The scholarship program, called Banyuwangi Cerdas (Smart Banyuwangi), was implemented in 2011, but this year it includes university students coming from families impacted by the pandemic.
The scholarship was symbolically handed over by Regent Abdullah Azwar Anas at City Hall on Dec. 2.
Anas said the Banyuwangi Cerdas scholarship program had been launched in 2011 to help well-performing young people from underprivileged families, orphans and those with disabilities.
"Through this program, Banyuwangi provides access to higher education for children who are less fortunate. Since its launch, the program has assisted no fewer than 1,800 young people,” he said.
Being part of an effort to increase the competitiveness of Banyuwangi's human resources, the Banyuwangi Cerdas scholarship picks young people from underprivileged families with academic potential and achievements.
On that occasion, Anas advised the students to become agents of change who would continue to carry a spirit of optimism for the nation's future generations.
"Hopefully this scholarship can motivate the students to continue to excel. The optimism and enthusiasm for innovation must always be maintained by the younger generation like you,’ Anas told hundreds of the scholarship recipients.
Anas also used the occasion to bid farewell, given that his term in office ends in February next year.
He will be remembered as having steered Banyuwangi, East Java, to become one of the country’s advanced regencies with robust development in all sectors.
Banyuwangi was elected this year as the top-performing regency in utilizing technology for pandemic-related social aid programs.
. (Courtesy of Pemkab Banyuwangi/.)
Despite the regency’s widely recognized achievements, Anas seemed to shy away from praising his personal performance.
"My fellow citizens, I will be retiring as regent, InsyaAllah, within about 2.5 months. I wholeheartedly apologize for all the shortcomings, both as an individual and regent,” he said.
He said he still had so many shortcomings that even a thick book would not be able to list.
"Please open the door of forgiveness for me, both as a person and as a regent," he reiterated.
Would-be acting regent Suratno, who is head of the Banyuwangi Education Office, said that, by 2020, the total funds disbursed in the Banyuwangi Cerdas scholarship program reached Rp 26.25 billion for around 1,800 students.
The 303 recipients this year are made up of three categories. The first category consists of 85 high schools students entitled to the scholarship for their next college studies.
"They will get scholarships for eight semesters (4 years) of tuition and living expenses during their studies," Suratno said.
The second category of scholarships is for college students. The verification process selected 96 recipients currently studying at several universities across Indonesia.
They are students who excel but are less well-off economically.
"The third category has 122 students who come from families affected by COVID-19. This category is specifically for students studying at 13 universities in Banyuwangi,” Suratno said.
One of the scholarship recipients, Yafits Armaqkit, who is the son of a barber, expressed his gratitude for the scholarship.
"Alhamdulillah, I am very grateful. This scholarship really helps me in paying my tuition fees. It really eases my parents’ burden. With this scholarship, I feel motivated to pursue my dreams,” said the student of the State-owned Islamic Study Institute (IAIN).
Silvi Ratna, a student of the Banyuwangi Rustida Krikilan Health Academy, was relieved at finding her name on the recipients list, given that her parents expect to be laid off due to the pandemic.
“My parents are actually already on the list of employees to be sent home. It’s just a matter of time. I had been discouraged from going to college. This scholarship has revived my hopes for us to continue studying,” said an emotionally overwhelmed Silvi.