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Independent learning "Kepolosan mandiri"

It's midmorning on Friday in busy South Jakarta, where most children are learning in school. There are around eight thousand that are not. These kids must stay home to either help with chores, look after their siblings or go work to earn money for their families.

Indonesian law grants free education to everyone. However, this law has not been enforced in all areas. Enrolment rates are increasing every year, yet, human rights advocates say improvements can still be made. These advocates continue to promote the message that all children benefit from the right to education, no matter their place in society.

Efforts have been made to improve education and reduce illiteracy. History has proven that the once concerning rate is progressing. In 1971, overall literacy in children was estimated to be about 58 per cent, ranging from 77 per cent in the cities to only 52 per cent in rural areas. Literacy rates have dramatically improved with the current proficiencies around 95 per cent.

The current supply of schools and teachers is inadequate to meet the needs of the fast-growing population of children in Jakarta. The current student to teacher ratio is 60:1. Educationalists say this is in unreasonable and intolerable. For suitable learning techniques to be taught the ratio needs to decrease.

As a child becomes older the need to earn money becomes a higher priority than education. The children most affected by this lack of education are those from poor families, and even more particularly girls, who are often destined to become homemakers.

The number of children who drop out of school in Jakarta is not improving. Based on the Ministry of Education and Culture's data, there are more than 1.8 million children each year that cannot continue their education. This is caused by three factors, their parents inability to provide money for uniforms, shoes and textbooks, children who are forced to work to support the family, and marriage at an early age.

Nestled in a small pocket along the river bend, lives the friendly community polsak mendang. Utama has lived in the polka mendang community for thirty years. Her whole family is involved within the communities daily workings. When she was eight she stopped going to school to help her mother and Aunties look after the babies. She never went back to school. She said “It was more important for me to be home, helping.”

Primary education is a crucial stage of a persons life in terms of physical, intellectual, emotional and social development. Growth of mental and physical abilities progress at an astounding rate when a child is interacting with their peers through conversations and purposeful play.

Fridays are exciting for the kids who can't attend school in the polka mendang community. As lunch is extended to two hours for a longer prayer time, their friends and neighbours come to visit from school to play.

As in all countries, the main reason for children entering the workforce prematurely in Jakarta is poverty. The most effective way to reduce the amount of children not attending school is to reduce the number of families living under the poverty line.

All kids deserve the right to be properly educated. Primary education is essential in every child's life. Learning in a school environment stimulates and defines a child’s capacity to learn, future success and future happiness.

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