Selasa, 11 September 2007

Bamboo school unites poor, international students

Bamboo school unites poor, international students
City News - September 05, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta


Dede, 14, flashed a bashful smile when asked how she liked her new school. It is made of bamboo and steel, measures some 5-by-7 cubic meters and is half-open, allowing a soft breeze to blow over the students as they study.

"I like being here," said Dede, wearing a white headscarf and her junior high school uniform.
The school, located near the Bintaro housing complex in Tangerang, has only one room with dozens of low-legged reddish brown wooden desks forming several lines on the blue-carpeted floor. No walls. An aisle divides the room into two.

The structure, which is movable, is equipped with a toilet in the back yard. In the front a large tree offers shade, hiding the humble building behinds its foliage.
"We don't have to study at someone else's place now because we already have our own classroom," she said during the school's official opening last weekend.

Another student, Adi, 14, agreed. Smiling brightly, he said: "It feels so natural here."
Adi and Dede are among 36 students of junior high school Ibnu Sina who have been using the building since the middle of July, when the new academic year started.
In the afternoon, after junior high school classes finish, 34 kindergartners from TK Sekar Harapan turn the building into a play area.

Students do not have to pay any fees to attend the school, which is managed by two non-governmental organizations, Maleo Foundation and Humanisty Foundation.
The school's construction was completed in late June, with a team of students from the nearby British International School (BIS) in Bintaro serving as the project developer.
The idea for the school was first proposed two years ago by a 16-year-old BIS student, who wanted to make a small change by providing a place where the children of scavengers could study.

These children, who he saw collecting garbage every day on his way to school, were his inspiration.
He has since graduated but his friends and younger students followed up the idea by launching the "Build-a-School" project, which was later entered in the DaimlerChrysler-sponsored UNESCO-Mondialogo Schools contest.
The competition unites partner schools from different parts of the world in a purposeful social project. BIS was partnered with Liceo Prati School in Trento, Italy, with the two schools winning the first prize of 3,500 euros (US$4,770), beating more than 1,000 schools worldwide.
The success prompted Italy's Trento regional council and individuals from DaimlerChrysler to donate to the project.

BIS teacher Adrian Thirkell, the project supervisor, said construction of the school cost around Rp 40 million (US$4,224).
"We'd use (the rest of) the money partly for maintenance, partly for cleaning the pond (near the new school building -- an ecology project), for making a garden and supporting some school activities," he said.
He said BIS would send some of its students to the school once or twice a week to help teach, and would invite students from the school to visit BIS every week.

"They can come to us for computing, cooking lessons, swimming and playing football," he said.
Thirkell talked to The Jakarta Post on Saturday after the opening ceremony for the free school, which was attended by representatives from the Italian Embassy, DaimlerChrysler Indonesia, Maleo Foundation and Humanisty Foundation.

Maleo Foundation supervisor Fuady Munir said SMP Ibnu Sina had a total of 24 teachers. However, only three are permanent teachers receiving monthly salaries, with the rest volunteers.
He said sometimes classes started late or were canceled because the students had to help their parents sort trash.
Fuady said Maleo Foundation was helping to fund the school with money donated by an Islamic study group.

"The members set aside 2.5 percent of their salary each month for the school," he said.
He said more than 150 children from poor families had applied to the school, but only 36 could be accepted because of limited facilities.
A member of Humanisty Foundation's funding team, Dewi Natira, said a lot of parents tried to get their children into Sekar Harapan kindergarten. However, only 34 were accepted.
"We wish more private institutions would fund our activities, so that we can receive more pupils," she said, adding that the kindergarten had only three teachers, including the school principal.

According to Dewi, Humanisty provides more than just book lessons for students.
It also gives handicraft-making lessons for the children's mothers, who usually wait for the children in the schoolyard during classes. The foundation also helps them sell the handicrafts.
Most of the parents of the kindergartners work as scavengers, while parents of the junior high school students have various jobs, from scavenging to selling soto ayam or peyek kacang (peanut fritters), as Adi and Dede's parents do, respectively.

Adi, whose favorite subject is English, said that he wanted to join the Army when he grew up.
Dede wants to be a veterinarian.
"It's because I like animals, especially cats and snakes," she said.
Boromeus Wanengkirion, 17, a member of the BIS "Build-a-School" team, hoped the new school would give the students a chance to succeed in life.
"I hope that they can maximize their potential and help develop the nation in the future," said the student. (11)

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