Theo Kelen, Jayapura, Jubi – A total of 476,534 indigenous children in Papua and West Papua provinces do not attend school, says data from the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Statistics Indonesia (BPS) for Papua and West Papua.
In the customary area of Domberai, 57,040 children unable to attend school, in Bomberai 14,504, in Mamta 56,769, in Anim Ha 92,988, in Meepago 89,433, in Saireri 43,622, and in Lapago 100,969 children cannot go to school. These figures do not even include children of special need and toddlers needing early childhood education.
Lecturer of the University of Papua Agus Sumule said this was due to shortage of teachers in the two provinces. Even if there was a school building, Sumule said, the school would not operate without teachers.
Sumule said the problem was exacerbated with teachers being absent from their assignments, especially teachers teaching in the Central Mountains area. A 2012 study by UNICEF showed that 30 percent of teachers in Papua and West Papua were absent from teaching.
The shortage of teachers in Papua and West Papua has reached 20,147 people, including elementary school teachers 9,351 people, junior high school teachers 5,402, high school teachers 1,964, vocational school teachers 1,676, and teachers who are about to retire 1,754.
Sumule said there should be a breakthrough by providing sufficient and qualified teachers. "If we only rely on teacher graduates from Faculty of Teacher Training and Education of the Cenderawasih University, the University of Papua, and the Musamus Merauke University, it will never cover the shortage of teachers in Papua," Sumule told Jubi in a phone call on Saturday, December 18, 2021.
"Because we need tens of thousands of teachers only for elementary schools. That means we have to invite other parties to also open a Teacher Training program," he added.
Sumule said that Government Regulation No. 106/2021 on the implementation of Papua Special Autonomy Law stipulated elementary school teachers can be supplied through opening a Diploma Two Teacher Training and Education (D2 PGSD) program that accepts high school and vocational high school graduates. The program can be opened in universities that have educational programs, including for example, theological colleges which have Christian Education programs.
"Let's work together and provide opportunities for colleges that have Christian Education, Catholic Education, Islamic Education. By opening another program called D2 PGSD, hopefully it will expedite the effort to meet the needs of teachers in Papua," he said.
According to Sumule, Papua and West Papua needed at least 33,000 teachers to teach children who are not currently in school. He suggested the Rp 1.4 trillion Special Autonomy funds for education in Papua and West Papua be used to address the current shortage of teachers.
"The main cause of people not going to school is not the lack of school buildings. People can go to school under a tree. But without teachers, don't dream of having a school," he said.
Acting Head of the Papua Education, Libraries, and Regional Archives Agency Protasius Lobya said in the Literacy Program Replication Workshop held by the Nusantara Sejati Foundation on October 19 that the level of teacher attendance in Papua's rural areas was still very low. According to Lobya, some of the leading factors were family and welfare matters, including rank and salary, as well as the lack of transparency at the management of School Operational Assistance (BOS) funds by the principal and BOS treasurer, which did not involve teachers. (*)