The Jakarta Post
The Siswa Asuh Sebaya (SAS) peer-support program of the Banyuwangi Education Office has won the Smart, Character-Strengthening Education Office award from the Education and Culture Ministry.
The ministry’s Character Building Center formally recognized the Banyuwangi office award on Dec. 7 at the virtual 2020 Award Night, which education minister Nadiem Makarim opened in Jakarta.
"Alhamdulillah [Praise be to God], Banyuwangi's innovation continues to produce achievements, and is appreciated by central government. This award will motivate us to continue to innovate to make it better in the future,” Banyuwangi Regent Abdullah Azwar Anas said on Dec. 8.
The Character Building Center bestows the country’s regencies for their efforts to create a “smart” community that contributes to educational advancement. It has deemed that the Banyuwangi Education Office’s SAS program, which roughly translates to peer-supporting students, has succeeded in achieving its character-building goal.
The SAS program supports underprivileged students in their studies through donations provided by their financially affluent peers.
“This program has a big impact on shaping the children's character. By regularly setting aside a small amount of their pocket money for their less fortunate peers, the students develop empathy, care and compassion for others. This seems to have impressed the assessment team,” said head caretaker Suratno of the Banyuwangi Education Office.
. (Courtesy of Pemkab Banyuwangi/.)
Since it was launched in 2011, the SAS program has distributed Rp19.1 billion in funds donated by students to help thousands of their peers in “The Land of Blambangan”, after the Hindu kingdom that once thrived in the regency.
"While the amount of money might not be [terribly] significant, the movement carries a noble mission to foster a sense of care among students in their early [stage]. We all hope that the students will become a generation that is compassionate, helpful, so that our society is more connected,” said Suratno.
Suratno added that the SAS program was administered in a straightforward manner, with students donating Rp 1,000 to Rp 5,000 of their allowance. The program had no complicated procedures or any requirements for the beneficiary students, who received pocket money, bicycles or mobile phone credit.
"Now entering ten years of implementation, the program currently has 911 participating schools, from elementary schools to junior and senior high schools in Banyuwangi. The number of recipients has also increased [and include] not only fellow classmates, but also [students] from other schools,” he said.
The SAS program is just one of many education programs the regency runs, which includes student pocket money and transportation assistance, a savings scheme for underprivileged students, the Banyuwangi Cerdas university scholarship and a school-dropout support program.
"Thanks to the programs we have developed, the dropout rate in Banyuwangi continues to decline from year to year," said Suratno.
The SAS program was named as one of East Java’s top 12 public service innovations in 2016. It was also nominated in the education category of the 2014 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) award, among hundreds of programs from all over Indonesia that aimed to reduce poverty through basic education.