Considering West Papua as a colonized, frightening and underdeveloped region is not entirely correct. This essay explains why. One aspect that has been standing out in West Papua is that education there is far more advanced. Indeed, there are still some areas in West Papua that still do not have the adequate school infrastructure. However, in some places, the infrastructure has been as much better as in other parts of Indonesia.
Stepping up the global trends
The advancement of educational infrastructure has manifested in the presence of school buildings in most of areas in West Papua. Some are developed by both the central and local governments, some others by private organizations both foreign and local.
The education curriculum in West Papua is also following the global trends. West Papuan children have been exposed to advance sciences in both the natural and social fields. They are also exposed to foreign languages to help them express their ideas in any globally-accepted expression. For instance, West Papua children have been taught foreign languages since elementary school.
The development of other infrastructures in West Papua has also been developed quite rapidly. The experience of West Papuan students who had to cross the river first to go to school, as you may have heard, has begun to diminish.
Through many programs of foreign teachers visiting West Papua, education in West Papua has also begun to be stepping up the global educational standards, and integrated with education abroad.
Yes, as you may have guessed, West Papua is very open to the foreigners coming to the region, especially those who will share their knowledge and experiences with children in the region.
Recently, a collaboration between Yayasan Kitong Bisa and Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales (AIESEC) Indonesia is successful to bring together the children of West Papua with a number of foreign youth. Through this collaboration, they brought in international educators who are mostly overseas students.
They are Greta Dohler of Maastricht University-Germany, Laurenz Lang of Vienna University-Austria, Kim Sebin of Women’s University-Seoul, South Korea, Tiggy Green of Wuhan University and Lucy Gong of Zhongnan University-China.
Started on last July 15, this activity was sort of the first of its kind, and yet it was successful. For 45 days they lived in two provinces of Papua and West Papua and were spread over several cities such as Merauke, Jayapura, Fakfak, Sorong, Raja Ampat and Yapen. They worked voluntarily with local West Papuan volunteers, which is not only for educating, but also empowering young West Papuans to become entrepreneurs for a better West Papua.
The Impression of foreign educators
The collaboration, in fact, has given many positive impressions from the foreign volunteers. Some of them wrote their impressions on social media.
Lucy Gong from China writes “In Marauke, the food is tasty and people are warm-hearted and easy going”.
Laurenz Lang from Austria: “My days in Kokas were an adventure. Teaching was exhausting but fun. The host family was great and friendly. All in all, I got knocked into a different life, which at time was challenging.”
South Korean student, Kim Sebin states: “It’s a beautiful place, I want to come back here later.”
Greta Dohler from Germany: “I really like it (Papua). I think all the people and culture is very interesting so I’m really enjoying learning more about it. ”
And the student of Wuhan University, Tiggyy Green says: “I think that people here (Papua) are very kind and friendly. The food is also delicious.”
Those positive impressions shows how West Papua is a safe and an attractive area for them. There is no fear, no violence and the people are very friendly.
The collaboration between native Papuan volunteers and overseas volunteers is the bridge to exchange ideas on improving the level of education in West Papua. This is also a promotional event for foreign tourists to see the beauty of the region. The coming of foreign youth to West Papua shows that the area is not a closed area as has been rumored by several individuals, groups and international media.
Aside from the field of education, the presence of the development of Trans Papua has opened wide access for the people of West Papua to improve the regional economy.
The massive development has clearly a huge impact on the progress of the region in various sectors such as the arrangement of good, clean and dignified governance at all levels. The connectivity has also helped improved equitable welfare for all, particularly for people who live in rural areas and remote areas, including poor people in urban areas.
Another notable progress is that West Papuans are beginning to consciously participate in law enforcement, discipline and uphold human rights. Acceleration in the development of basic infrastructure also takes place throughout West Papua for the supply of clean water, energy and an adequate telecommunications system, including for transportation and communication infrastructure in the context of building integrated transportation (land, sea and air).
West Papua is not scary, but an Indonesian region that is now working and struggling as hard as other provinces, to advance, and so do the West Papuan government and the people. (*)