Ryan Dagur, Jayapura
Updated: November 27, 2018 05:34 AM GMT
Senior high school students at Teruna Bakti Catholic School in Wamena, Papua, sing as Catholic educators visit their school on Nov. 22. (Photo by Ryan Dagur/ucanews.com)
Indonesia's minister of education and culture, Muhadjir Effendy, has emphasized the importance of working closely with the Catholic Church to address problems with the education system in many parts of the country including Papua.
Effendy, who attended a meeting of the National Council of Catholic Education that ended on Nov. 25 in Jayapura, said the ministry aims to improve the deteriorating state of education in Papua.
He said help was needed from both the church and educators.
The minister lauded the church's high-quality education programs for Papuan students, including providing school meals in a region where malnourishment is a huge problem.
"We will work hand in hand with the church, which has made a great contribution to the education sector, such as in Papua," he said.
About 300 Catholic educators — priests, nuns, principals and experts under the umbrella of the National Council of Catholic Education — spent much of the four-day meeting discussing how Catholic schools should respond to religious intolerance, extremism, the challenges of a multicultural society and the overall poor quality of Indonesian teachers.
Franciscan Father Vinsensius Darmin Mbula, chairman of the council, agreed with the minister. He said there are many areas where the government and Catholic schools can collaborate, such as provide training for teachers and principals.
"The council will start the training of teachers and principals next year," the priest said.
Sylvo Lobya, director of the Catholic Schools Foundation in Jayapura Diocese, said its effort to find higher-caliber school principals has encountered difficulties due to the high costs involved in traveling to Java, where the most talented personnel can be sought.
He hoped either the government or church would pitch in and help out.
"There is no [teacher training] institution here," he said. "Training for two people in Java can cost 100 million rupiah [US$6,900]," he said.
According to John Giay, an educator in Timika Diocese, many school facilities are in dire need of an upgrade. "Most of the school buildings here were built during the Dutch occupation," he said.
According to Bishop Leo Laba Ladjar of Jayapura, who also attended the meeting of Catholic educators, Papua's education problems are so complex that cooperation among all stakeholders is necessary.
He said the quality of teachers is just one area of concern. Geographical conditions pose another challenge as this tends to impact the attendance rates of both students and teachers.
"All of these things must be addressed," the bishop said.
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.