For the first time since leaving her country 1 year ago, Zainab is now sitting in a classroom. She is one of 35 refugee children in Jakarta enrolled in Indonesian public schools this year.
With the help of UNHCR’s partner, Dompet Dhuafa, more refugee children can now speak Bahasa Indonesia, which is a must for children to be able to study in public schools in Indonesia. In March of this year, three teachers from Dompet Dhuafa Teacher’s Institute began organizing classes for refugee children to prepare them for entering Indonesian schools. Within a few months, the children were able to speak basic Bahasa Indonesia and now act as interpreters for their parents, facilitating better understanding with their host communities. With the support of the Government of Indonesia, the Ministry of Education, and UNHCR’s partner Church World Services (CWS), refugee children are now placed in schools within their area of residence.
“It’s not easy to enable refugee children to attend public schools. Now, with everyone’s support and the Bahasa Indonesia preparation classes, we are seeing positive results as more children enroll in school,” said Ms. Pipit, a teacher from Dompet Dhuafa. “It’s exciting to see the refugee children finally wearing their school uniforms and sitting in the classroom.”
Currently, over 90% of refugee children are out of school. UNHCR and partners continue to prioritize formal education through access to public schools.
“We are really thankful for everything that UNHCR, Dompet Dhuafa, CWS, and the Government of Indonesia are doing. My children are very happy to be in school. They often have a difficult time falling asleep at night because they are too excited to return to school,” said Mr. Abeedh, a refugee father of seven children. Life has been difficult for his family since they arrived in Indonesia. Before he and his family fled their homeland for Indonesia, Mr. Abeedh was a respected teacher in his community. For him, the inability to send his children to school was a significant blow for a man dedicated to the pursuit of learning. Since their arrival in Indonesia, Mr. Abeedh’s children have dreamt of returning to school.
UNHCR commends the Government of Indonesia for allowing refugee children to attend public schools. By making primary education available to these children, Indonesia sets an example in the region and honors its obligation as a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. More importantly, Indonesia is giving refugee children hope for a brighter future,” said Thomas Vargas, UNHCR’s Representative in Indonesia.