Young Teacher’s Journey to Build Learning Facilities in Remote North Maluku Island
Bayu Adi Persada
[Indonesia Mengajar (Indonesia Teaches) is a volunteer-based educational program that was started by Anies Baswedan, the rector at Paramadina University in Jakarta, to send top graduates from around the country to teach in rural areas. This is the story of how a Pengajar Muda (Young Teacher) found his passion.]
Click here to read “How a Teacher Learned About Art, Culture and Nature in Bibinoi,” the fourth part of “Journal of a Young Teacher” series.
I was stationed in Bibinoi village, population 1,300, in North Maluku’s Bacan Island. When my feet first touched Bibinoi’s sand and I laid eyes on local people’s faces, all my worries were washed away. Although I could not find a single bar on my cell phone signal indicator and electricity had been installed but hasn’t been stable, I was grateful to be there.
The locals said that local politics is their only form of entertainment. With limited phone signal and unstable electricity, it’s reasonable why they indulged in such pastime. As I had pointed in previous blog posts, education in Bibinoi is not of top-priority for the society. Thus, there were very few educational events in the area.
As a teacher, one of my missions was to raise the locals’ awareness on the importance of education. The children must grow up to be better in every aspect than their parents. The parents – most were farmers, fishermen, tailors – might not be educated, but the children must. Essentially, my mission was not to find comfort and luxury; it was to give these disadvantaged kids a dream. A dream that they can hold on to their entire life.
I believed holding an educational event is one way to raise the people’s awareness. With Adhi Nugroho, a fellow Pengajar Muda, I initiated some memorable events in Bibinoi; events that we hoped would bring good impacts to the locals and raise enthusiasm about education as a whole.
Founding Bibinoi House of Study
Prior to holding events, Adhi and I founded Rumah Belajar Bibinoi (Bibinoi House of Study) in April 2011. After doing thorough assessments for more than four months, I came to understand that one of the main problems here is that the kids never studied outside school hours.
Again, parental factor played a significant role here. Since the parents weren’t properly educated – majority of them are illiterate – they did not see the responsibility to help their children study at home. Their work demanded them to rise up early in the morning and go to either the farm or sea. They spent most of their day in the sun and went back home when the sun set.
To instill proper education to the children is the role of school teachers, they believed.
Outside school, the kids did not have a place to study. Home is a mere place to gather with the family and to rest. Based on that judgment, I intended to build them a place to study.
Developing Rumah Belajar Bibinoi (RUBI) was not without problems. Partnering with Ikatan Remaja Bibinoi (Bibinoi Youth League), we had to bear many obstacles: from lack of human resources and fundings to pessimistic locals who weren’t helpful at all. On the other hand, however, we gained supports from a small number of people. And that was enough to keep us going.
After tearing down those barriers right in front our nose, I was grateful and proud to finally open RUBI for the public. RUBI was officially opened and inaugurated on 29 October, 2011, by Muhammad Kasuba, South Halmahera district head.
On that special occasion, Kasuba gave us full support and said that he’s ready to provide any assistance to further develop the house of study.
RUBI is a library-based study center. Until now, it has more than 900 books with various categories, from storybook, science, encyclopedia, to religion. With those books stored safely in RUBI, every person in Bibinoi – from child aged 3 to adults – can come and use its facilities. The facilities include creative learning tools, musical instruments and other creativity-enhancing games.
Its interior was designed colorfully to lure kids to come. The environment was made homey so every visitor would feel comfortable spending time in there.
RUBI is situated at the center of the village. It can be accessed from all directions with only walking distance. RUBI is never short of visitors. Kids, teenagers and adults come to learn, to read, to sing, to draw, to hold discussions everyday.
With RUBI established, Bibinoi now has a proper education facility. In the future I hope there will be more books available and it can serve as an alternative place to educate the masses.
By the end of the day, I felt that I could leave Bibinoi to Jakarta with relief. Seeing RUBI stood gallantly, I was happy that I could leave an everlasting legacy in Bibinoi.
With a Little Help From the Youth League
Indonesia’s first president, Soekarno, once said, “Give me ten young men with passionate love for the country, and I will stun the world.” At first, that particular saying sounded too exaggerating and irrational to me, but later I learned that Soekarno said it for a reason.
During the one year I taught as a Pengajar Muda, I witnessed how youth can change the society, remarkably. To change an existing paradigm in the society had never been easy. To overcome such trouble, one thing that was needed is to be patient and to be clever in making moves. The most important thing, though, was to find a partner. And I found that partnership in the Bibinoi Youth League.
Bibinoi Youth League (IRBI) was founded by a group of young men fueled by concerns of juvenile delinquency such as vandalism, alcohol and sexual intercourse among teens in the area. These indecent behaviors, according to the locals, were inspired from television.
Syamil, a graduate from a university in Makassar, South Sulawesi, was the brain behind IRBI. Although IRBI was initially perceived skeptically by a number of locals, it wasn’t long until the youth organization was able to contribute positive things to the society. The concrete actions done, among other, were village-cleaning movement, care-taking mosques and churches, and planting mangrove trees to prevent abrasion.
I was appointed as a coach for IRBI. I helped them creating organizational structure and planning its visions and missions. It was an honor to be able to help these outstanding young men and women.
In some activities, I gave lectures about technology and computer, English, math and self-development. It’s the least I could do. The main thing was they had high-spirit to grow and they needed to be tutored.
These days, its members have reached more than 70 people. And when I left Bibinoi for good, I handed over RUBI management to the aspiring youth in IRBI. I had no doubt they could develop RUBI.
With this in mind, I believe they will light up candles for the people in Bibinoi.
[Next week: Love and regret]