Educating Girls to Alleviate Poverty
As Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, I am very proud to be in Indonesia today for National Education Day, a day that has celebrated the value of education in Indonesia since 1908.
I am very passionate about the opportunities education can provide girls and women and wish to share Nella’s story with you.
Nella is a Grade 3 student at Sowi, a primary school in Manokwari, West Papua. Nella’s school is located in a region that has struggled to provide quality education to its young people because of remoteness, limited teacher training, and poorly equipped schools.
Nella loves going to school. Her favorite subject is English, and she’s good at it, too. Although shy, just last month Nella spoke in English with Australian aid workers visiting the region. I wish I could meet Nella myself.
Nella represents one of the hundreds of thousands of Indonesian girls and boys going to school and receiving a high quality education through Australia’s Education Partnership with Indonesia program.
Teaching practices and school-based management have been strengthened at Nella’s school and the local community engaged, making school for Nella, and her classmates, a more positive and encouraging learning environment.
Alarmingly, two-thirds of the world’s illiterate people are women. For women and girls living in developing countries, being illiterate compounds the challenges they may already face due to poverty or discrimination.
I believe education has the ability to lift girls and women out of poverty by providing opportunities: opportunities to earn money, to support children and families, and to live safely and comfortably.
Indonesia and Australia have been friends and partners for many years. Through the Australian government aid program (AusAID), Australia is working alongside the Indonesian government to improve education quality and access.
The two countries are working shoulder-to-shoulder to ensure all children throughout Indonesia have at least nine years of education.
The government of Indonesia has committed 20 percent of its state budget toward education and as we edge closer to 2015, Indonesia is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education.
AusAID is providing assistance to create new school places for Indonesia’s children, and has built more than 2,000 junior secondary schools in some of the poorest and most disadvantaged regions of Indonesia.
A total of 330,000 new educational places have already been created, and this figure will soon increase as up to another 2,000 junior secondary schools will be built across Indonesia from 2012 to 2016.
Fifty percent of students enrolled in Australian-built schools in Indonesia come from families who live on less than $2 a day, and half of the children enrolled in the first 2,000 schools are girls. This is proof Australia is providing opportunities, and a better chance at life, to Indonesian girls and boys who would ordinarily not have access to an education.
Australia is also committed to improving the quality of education, with all of Indonesia’s 293,000 school principals, supervisors and local education officials receiving training in school management over the next few years.
Education will help guide Indonesia’s future generations, girls, women, boys and men, through decision-making processes, foster confidence and independence and encourage active contribution to the development of Australia’s closest neighbor, Indonesia.
In Indonesia this National Education Day, as Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, I could not be prouder.