Developing Nation from the Hinterland
He is still young. But his flaming spirit to bring benefit for underdeveloped people in this country is undoubted. Hendrolisa (25) is a tough young man dedicating himself to teaching Indonesian children in the hinterland of West Kalimantan.
The graduate of a famous university in Indonesia has almost one year become a teacher at an elementary school (SD) located in the hinterland of West Kalimantan, near the border between Indonesia and Malaysia.
The school is named SD Sentabeng. There are only 60 students, 6 classes, with all minimum facilities in that school. There is not yet electricity in that area.
There is also Hermilton (51), an elementary school teacher at SD Tumbang Anoi in Damang Batu sub-district, Gunung Mas regency, Central Kalimantan hinterland. Hermilton coming from out of Central Kalimantan has become a teacher for a long time at that elementary school. In that kampong, Hermilton should stay at an old official residence with seven other teachers.
Although should endure such a bitter condition, they have decided that teaching at hinterland is their choice. Achieving honour through self-denial and devotion that not all people can do. Unfortunately, devotion they show to the country is not responded with appreciation and welfare by the country.
Do not ask about the salary Hendro dan Hermilton receive every month to meet their daily needs in those isolated areas. Moreover, with families as their dependants.
Hendro and Hemilton are only a few of a thousand sad stories about the unsung heroes throughout Indonesia. Especially those dedicating themselves to serving and teaching children in underdeveloped areas, hinterlands and border areas. In other sides of this archipelago, there are many more Hendro and Hermilton who fight for educating the nation’s pearls in the middle of the bitter life. Enduring between idealism of devotion and reality of limitation.
Sad stories about Hendro and Hermilton are not something new in Indonesia. Improving welfare of educators and teachers in Indonesia has become a classic issue in Indonesian education world since this 240 million populated country was established. Moreover, other issues in our education world, from infrastructures, quality of teachers, to quantity and need of teachers that still become serious problems and homework.
Although the Government has made a lot of improvements in our education world, such as the fulfillment of 20 percent of National Budget (APBN) for education, the gradual promotion of temporary teachers to become prospective civil servants (CPNS), salary increase, certification to enable teachers receiving allowance, and scholarship for teachers, it does not mean that all problems of teacher in this country are already solved. It is not possible that the improvements only make impact on those living in big cities and dense populated areas. How about those living in underdeveloped, isolated and outermost areas? Those policies do not touch them due to the limited access to information.
Based on the data of the Ministry of Education and Culture, the number of teachers in Indonesia is 2.7 million today. Of such number, 1.5 million (57.4%) do not yet get S1 (Bachelor) degree, and most of them are living in Java, Sumatra, and some big cities. Not many teachers live in underdeveloped, outermost and foremost (3T) areas in Indonesia. For example, Papua province is still in need of at least 500 teachers. In the corners of Kalimantan forests, there are many elementary or junior high schools with only 3-4 teachers.
The Government’s plan to evenly assign teachers to the hinterlands is such a really positive policy. The General Chairman of the Indonesian Teacher Association (PGRI), Dr. Sulistyo said that there are surpluses of 500 thousand teachers in dense populated areas, especially in Java and Sumatra. While the contrast condition occurs in the hinterlands.
The imbalance of facilities and welfare between cities and hinterlands becomes one main factor that make the unsung heroes reluctant to dedicate themselves in underdeveloped areas. All these time, Government seems to treat teachers working in underdeveloped areas and hinterlands differently from their peers in cities. Paying more attention to the role and dedication of teachers in hinterlands is the best solution.
The National Teachers’ Day falling on November 25th should be a moment for the policy makers to review the problems of national education world today, especially welfare and facilities for thousands of teachers dedicating themselves in hinterlands and underdeveloped areas. More attention in the form of welfare and facility improvement is necessary for them to ensure the sustainability of education for the nation’s pearls in the isolated areas. They are the ‘heroes’ like other public officials in this country. They are key persons for the revival of nation from the hinterlands. The future of children in hinterlands is put in their hands. May the 66th National Teachers’ Day this year gives a new optimism to the future of teachers, especially those working in hinterlands to achieve such a better welfare.