Teaching Students in Batom, Bintang Highlands, Papua

Teaching Students in Batom, Bintang Highlands, Papua

When he was walking through the school corridor, the noise from outside the classroom grew louder as the students had just played outside and it was time to start the class. “Good morning, Teacher!” the students greeted their teacher. He is M. Fatkhul Damanhury, an alumnus of YSU Department of Civic Education who participates in Scholars Teaching in Outermost, Frontier, and Underdeveloped Regions in Indonesia Program.
Since the program has been launched four years ago, this is the first program to conduct in Papua. Previously, the regions targeted were oly Aceh, North Kalimantan, and East Nusa Tenggara.
In a simple school building made of boards and simple roofing, the barefoot students’ learning activities are conducted. In such a limited condition, they always put their sparkling smiles on. The previous grade 4 room has transformed into the teacher’s room. There are not so many chairs or table there, only sufficient for the principles and the number of teachers. Two old cupboards are used for storing elementary school and junior high school textbooks. Right at the corner of the room are kept broomsticks, a moderate size box of chalks, and an unused typewriter.
M. Fatkhul Damanhury teaches grade 2 and 9 students. When teaching grade 2 students, Hury, as he usually called, gives writing practices for the students. He asks the students to copy the sentences. Some students have good handwriting, and students are still struggling to make their handwriting legible. Step by step, Hury assists the students who find it difficult to produce clear handwriting. “We work extra hard to teach them to write, not to mention teaching them to read and count,” he said.
In Bintang Highlands’ districts, the main transportation is plane, including Batom District. The other means of transportation are boats and on foot. As one of the local airports is located near the school, students often run out of the classroom to see the planes landing or taking off. One day, Hury was teaching the students when a plane flew above their school. Some of them ran outside the classroom. He asked the students, “Where are you going?” the one who was the last one in the group answered, “We want to see the plane, Sir!”
He raised his eyebrows and closed the classroom door properly. From the window, he saw the students walked back to the school. Supardi, the Principal, told him “Seeing the plane landing or taking off is an entertainment for them. Many locals rely on carrying loads to earn money to feed their families.”
In Batom’s airport, a load carrier can earn 20 dollars a day. However, prices are high when goods are delivered by plane.
This district is also guarded by the army from Batallion 515, Jember, East Java. 4 of the soldiers help to teach students at the elementary school. Meanwhile, M. Fatkhul Damanhury will teach the students till September 2015.

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