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Jakarta Post

Students in Maluku help each other cross dangerous river to get to school

  • Alya Nurbaiti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, July 19, 2020   /   08:51 am
Students in Maluku help each other cross dangerous river to get to school Four students of East Seram 16 junior high school in East Seram regency, Maluku, fight against strong currents as they cross a river to get to their school in Weinama district on Thursday. (Kompas.com/Rahmat Rahman Patty)

While online learning is expected to become the new norm in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, students in East Seram regency in Maluku are still struggling to access offline education.

On Friday, a video showing four female students crossing a flooded river delta on their way to school in Werinama district went viral, triggered an outpouring of sympathy. 

In the video, one student wearing a school uniform starts to cross the river and after putting her down on the other side, goes back to help her friends. Another student slips and falls and is almost swept away by the strong current but manages to stand up and make it to the other side of the river.

Despite the real danger, the girls seemed calm and unafraid and could even be heard laughing during the 53-second crossing.

Read also: Addressing the new normal for schools in rural areas

Lissa Tanamal, the one who posted the original video on Facebook, said the students had to wait for three hours for the current to slow down and the river was safe enough for them to cross.

“After three hours of waiting, we finally made it! These kids are braver than me. Keep up your spirits, my dears,” Lissa wrote in the caption.

The students are eighth-graders at East Seram 16 junior high School in Batuasa village, which is located 3 kilometers from their homes in Tobo village.

East Seram 16 teacher Werto Wailisahalong explained that students from Tobo village had to walk along the coast and cross the Uli river every day because there was no road access between villages.

“They walk as far as 3 km before crossing the river,” Werto said on Friday as quoted by kompas.com.

Werto said the school had resumed classroom activities on July 13, at about the same time the rainy season began in a number of areas in East Seram and caused the river to flood.

Read also: Teachers go extra mile to teach students as schools remain closed

Crossing the river delta, where the river meets the ocean, is considered a safer option than crossing the upper course of the river where water flows faster. According to the National Geographic Encyclopedia, a river moves more slowly as it nears its mouth.

Meanwhile, East Seram Education and Culture Agency agency Sidik Rumaloak said there was not much he could do regarding the matter as infrastructure development was not part of his purview.

“However, we will request [road construction in the area] to solve the problem,” he said.