Jumat, 27 November 2015

Liputan penerima Beasiswa SMK Keling Kumang dari Good Return Australia

Our Field Support Officer (FSO) Bridget Martin, recently shared a Good News story that is a cup of warm cocoa for the soul!
Having taught for three years in a low socioeconomic high school in Australia and assisted in the administration of educational grants and bursaries for a non-profit organisation, Bridget’s passion and expertise made her the perfect lead on an exciting new project. Thanks to a generous Australian donor, our team and colleagues at CUKK Indonesia had the opportunity to develop a program to help children of families living on less than $2.50 per day to complete secondary education. Working to meet a tight deadline, our team and colleagues at CUKK demonstrated their commitment by sleeping on floors, braving treacherous muddy roads and working through the night to reach families in the remote villages of West Kalimantan. By addressing the financial barriers to education, our team is giving children living in poverty the opportunity to keep learning. Bridget brings you her story.


Good Return has had the opportunity to pilot an exciting new project. Just a few months ago, we received funding for a new scholarship program aimed at supporting students living in poverty to further their education. Working closely with our Indonesian partner CUKK, we have provided 50 students from disadvantaged backgrounds with scholarships to attend senior high school this year. The project targets children at upper secondary school age (typically 16 to 18 years old) who are at risk of dropout for financial reasons. By addressing the major financial obstacles to education, we hope to significantly reduce this risk and allow these young people to continue studying. Research shows that just one extra year of schooling can increase an individual’s earnings by up to 10%. We believe that this scholarship will provide students with better opportunities to improve the future for themselves and their families.
Fifty scholarship students have started school in July
Fifty scholarship students have started school in July

“The families we spoke with in West Kalimantan indicated that school fees represent the most significant obstacle to sending their children to school.”

The pilot program will be delivered in partnership with SMK Keling Kumang, a recently opened senior high school located in the town of Sekadau, West Kalimantan. SMK Keling Kumang is a vocational senior high school that offers the national curriculum alongside vocational studies in areas such as IT, accounting and agriculture. The families we spoke with in West Kalimantan indicated that school fees represent the most significant obstacle to sending their children to school. They told us that the most difficult costs to bear were those that required large lump-sum payments. This problem is associated with cash flow difficulties arising from low and irregular income, as well as presently low rubber prices in Indonesia, a major source of revenue in the region. For this reason, the scholarship has focused funding on the major financial outlays associated with sending a child to school: school fees, uniforms, books and stationery.
Children received certificates of enrollment at a ceremony in July
Children received certificates of enrollment at a ceremony in July
As a Field Support Officer in Indonesia, I have been leading the implementation of the pilot on the ground. Having taught for three years in a low socioeconomic high school in Australia and, prior to that, assisted in the administration of educational grants and bursaries for another non-profit organisation, I have tried to draw from my experience while working on this project. Fortunately, I have also been working closely with the Good Return program team, who provide great support from Australia, and an incredibly dedicated group of local staff from CUKK and our partner school. As we decided to offer the scholarship only to students in households living on less than US$2.50 per day, each household had to undergo a poverty assessment (using the Progress out of Poverty Index) and a home interview. A team of 11 Indonesian staff travelled far and wide to visit the homes of candidate families to determine their eligibility. This was no easy task as many roads in the region are muddy and difficult to negotiate. In addition to transportation challenges, one night, after enjoying dinner and an evening debrief in a small village outside Sekadau, the team discovered that the local branch office where they had intended to stay was closed. With few other options, they settled in to sleep on the floor of the café, using their jackets as pillows, before getting up to continue their surveys the next morning.
Good Return & CUKK surveyed 172 households  in under a week!
Good Return & CUKK staff showing their commitment sleeping on the floor of a remote cafe
The Survey Team
Through this home interview process and the application forms we received with letters from the students, we heard many heartfelt stories about the lengths to which these children and their families go to remain in school. These are just a few examples: Petrus wakes up at 2:30am every day to go to work cutting coconuts in the market before school and he returns there to work every afternoon. Before he received the scholarship, Petrus borrowed money from his boss to afford the enrolment fee (approximately $5) for senior high school. Andreas’ father insisted that he leave school to work and earn more money or he would no longer be provided for. Andreas refused to drop out and went to live with his sister and brother-in-law so that he could continue studying. Ristanti’s father is unable to earn as much as he used to due to poor health. Before she received the scholarship, Ristanti’s mother sold a pair of her earrings in order to afford the cost of transport and the initial fee to enrol in senior high school.
From left: Petrus, Andreas and Ristanti
From left: Petrus, Andreas and Ristanti
Based on their household poverty score, their application forms and recommendations from the Survey Team and the local branch manager, 50 students were selected from 129 applicants by CUKK’s Executive Committee. Half of these students were girls. On the 9th of July we held an award ceremony for the students where we gave each a certificate and distributed their pack of books, pens and rulers for the year. The ceremony was attended by a local government leader, Wakil Bupati Rupinus, and as part of the event I delivered my first ever speech in Indonesian.
CUKK Representative, Adilbertus Aco (left) and Wakil Bupati Rupinus, with FSO Bridget Martin
Wakil Bupati Rupinus (left) and , with FSO Bridget Martin
Each student received a CUKK bag, 70 notebooks, 12 pens and a set of rulers along with their certificate. Now that the students have started school, our focus will be on monitoring their progress and the effectiveness of the program. We will be checking their attendance, interviewing their families and conducting a few in-depth case studies (keep an eye out for these). We will also be looking to secure further funding for the program so that we may support these students through the remaining two years of senior high school and offer the same opportunities to more students in the future.

Congratulations to Bridget and the Good Return and CUKK teams on this wonderful achievement. Their tireless effort, passion and perseverance is inspiring. We look forward to bringing you updates on the Sintang school project and the scholarship students.
It is often stated that investing in education is the most effective way to reduce poverty. By removing the financial barriers to education, we are providing opportunities for the leaders of tomorrow. The best way to help us continue our work is through regular giving. Please consider becoming a champion for the people like the families of Sintang.


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