Street children in Indonesia normally have no access to a proper education, as their families aren’t able to afford it. That’s why a group called Save Street Child Surabaya has banded together to provide free education to children in the second largest city, Surabaya.
Community volunteers teach children in public locations, such as parks and mosques. Recruited as high school and college students, they are referred to as “Cool Teachers” in recognition of their desire to share knowledge. Rizky Arif, a 20-year old student at Shipbuilding State Polytechnic, describes what motivates him, “They have to work for their parents until 3:00 AM when they should learn more and play. Poverty forces them to work hard without any education. This reality encouraged me to become a cool teacher volunteer.”
Street children’s typical day involves long and harsh working terms: polishing shoes, street performing, scavenging, and begging. As such, lessons held during the evening hours give the children something to look forward to. “I like mathematics the most. It helps me sell the lumpia (spring rolls). My parents do not prohibit me to study as long as I do it after working,” says ten-year-old Muhammad Ilham Fauzi.
Presently, around 20 to 30 people have made a positive impact on these young lives. The most important lesson children are learning is that they deserve the right to be curious, discover new things, and build their dreams.
Arist Merdeka Sirait, chairman of the National Commission for Child Protection, commented on the importance of community effort. “I appreciate what they do to support the education of street children. It should be our responsibility to give street children help.”
He continued, “All people and government must be more serious to solve the problem of education for street children. They are the future generation of this nation. Don’t ignore their education.”
Creative Commons Love: Ville Miettinen on Flickr