Sabtu, 20 Oktober 2018

Most Children Still Have No Access to Early Education

Costly education: Maskoki kindergarten pupils in Depok attend a class on Friday. In 2012 only 37.8 percent of children had access to preschool in Indonesia, despite the government'€™s effort to increase the percentage to 72 percent by 2014. (JP/Yuli Tri Suwarni)

More than half of children under the age of six have no access to early childhood education, the Education and Culture Ministry says.

The ministry'€™s early childhood, non-formal and informal education (PAUDNI) director general, Lydia Freyani Hawadi, said on Thursday that in 2012 only 37.8 percent of children had access to preschool in Indonesia, despite the ministry'€™s drive to increase the percentage to 72 percent by 2014.

'€œWe acknowledge that we are facing tough challenges in fulfilling that target of 72 percent,'€ Lydia said.

However, she said that the directorate general had successfully increased the gross participation rate (APK) of children below six years old in preschools to 37.8 percent from 34 percent in 2011.

Even though preschool education is not compulsory in Indonesia, it is crucial for the development of social, cognitive and motor skills of children, education expert Arief Rachman Hakim said.

'€œA preschool environment introduces children to social situations and teaches them manners. It has an affect on the future lives of these children,'€ Arief told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

'€œIt is the most crucial time in one'€™s life,'€ he added.

Preschool is not only essential to introduce children to literacy and numeracy but it also makes them more confident in their abilities during elementary school.

According to Lydia, the directorate suffered from a lack of funding, which limited them from expanding the early childhood education facilities throughout the country.

The government allocated Rp 2.4 trillion (US$232.8 million) to early childhood education this year. Lydia said the money would be used to establish more preschools, improve the quality of teachers and educate the public regarding the importance of early childhood education.

'€œWith this amount, we can only develop 1,491 new preschools this year: Far less than the government'€™s program to establish a preschool in every village in Indonesia. As of 2012, there were 25,834 villages without early childhood education institutions,'€ Lydia said. '€œAs such, with funds at the current level, it would take around 15 years to
complete the program,'€ she added.

Lydia said the ministry would not build new infrastructure, such as buildings or classes, this year as the ministry aimed to up the gross participation rate using existing public spaces.

'€œWe aim to develop new preschools by utilizing existing public places, including mosques, churches, temples and Posyandu,'€ Lydia said.

She said it would only take around Rp 45 million to develop new preschools using this method, much less than the Rp 300 million or so it would cost to build a new building.

Separately, Ella Yulaelawati, the ministry'€™s public education director under the PAUDNI directorate general said that Indonesia had aimed to reduce the number of illiterate people to 7.5 million by 2015, but by 2011, the country had surpassed this goal and reduced the number to 6.7 million.

However, she said that even though the country had exceeded the target nationally 34.5 percent of Papua residents are illiterate.

'€œWe will concentrate our program more on improving literacy in Papua,'€ Ella said. '€œBased on a study, an area with more than 30 percent of illiterate residents is more prone to conflict,'€ she added.


Copyright © Ren Lydia Freyani Hawadi | Guru Besar Universitas Indonesia