Serious shortage of teachers in West Papua

Cenderawasih Pos, 6 October 2008 translated by TAPOL

Responding to a statement by the Minister of Education, Bambang Sudibiyo, that Indonesia has far too many teachers, Manuel Wetapo SE, member of Commission C of the DPRP (Papuan Regional Assembly) said that if this is the case, people at the centre need to take a look at the situation in Papua where many regions which have plenty of school buildings suffer from a serious shortage of teachers; in some places there are no teachers at all.

‘Many people complain about the lack of teachers and are asking why this is so,’ he said.

He said that during a recent trip to the Central Highlands, he found that of the 133 state schools in the area, some have so few teachers that the children fill their school time playing or working. because they gave nothing to do.

For instance, the Air Garam primary school and the Megapura primary school in Jayawijaya as well as private schools such as YPK Hepuba primary school, Hetigima primary school, Samenage primary school and a primary school in Yahukimo suffer from a serious shortage of teachers. He said that Sogokmo primary school which is some distance from a town has six classes of children but only three teachers.

‘This is a serious matter,’ he said, ‘if Papua is supposed to be preparing well educated human resources.’

According to the data he was given, Papua needs 15,347 teachers but there are only 12,124 teachers in all, which means there is a shortage of 3,223 teachers. The reason for this situation is that many schools are located in areas that are difficult to reach and very isolated.

‘If the minister of education says there are too many teachers in Indonesia, I think he should pay attention to this situation.’ In their efforts to deal with the shortage, much of the problem is caused by the places where the teachers are located. ‘Many teachers choose to abandon the places where they are sent and stay in the town because, after seeing the location to which they were sent, they see that there are no decent houses, no officially provided transport, a lack of water and electricity as well as no incentive to stay there. What I was told,’ he said, ‘was that many of them choose not to remain at their place of work, which results in the shortage.’

He also questioned the sense of devotion of the teachers who,when they graduated, swore on oath to agree to be placed anywhere in Indonesia to serve the nation by teaching the children wherever they may be. ‘It seems that many of them dont understand the real meaning of that oath.’

He said that there should be sanctions for teachers who misbehave in this way and are only prepared to stay in the towns. ‘They shouldn’t just be getting their salary without doing the work they are supposed to be doing; this is clearly a form of corruption.’

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