Education ‘key to progress in Papua’

Education ‘key to progress in Papua’
Union of Catholic Asian News

UCANEWS, April 13, 2010

DEPOK, Indonesia (UCAN) — Native Papuans say that education of their people should address the shortage of skills that has hampered development in the province.

“We agree to improve both formal and non-formal education by stressing special skills according to the needs of local people,” said Vincentia Tebay, a Papuan activist, reading out an agreement issued after a symposium held on April 7-9 at the University of Indonesia (UI) in Depok, West Java.

About 300 people, mostly Papuans, attended the symposium dealing with fundamental rights and development in the region, organized by UI Native Papuans agreed to develop         and the Jayapura-based University of a cultural-based curriculum to bring                      Cendrawasih.
out the best in their people

Participants agreed to develop a social and cultural-based curriculum to bring out the best in their people. They also said there was a need to take care of teachers’ welfare, particularly those working at schools in villages.

The meeting resolved to push for bylaws to ensure proper management of natural resources to protect tribal people’s rights.

“Local people should also be involved in managing natural resources,” the resolution said.

Dirk Veplum, a lecturer at the University of Cendrawasih, told UCA News that the development workers would work together with religious organizations and tribal communities.

“Religious organizations and tribal communities will serve as an entry. We cannot go in without their support,” he said.

He also acknowledged that the local Church has played an important role in the province’s development. “Missioners have opened access to remote areas,” he said.

Edward Komboi, a Papuan activist studying in the state-run university in Depok, agreed that the lack of a skilled workforce had hampered the province’s development.

“Both national and regional governments must pay attention to this,” he told UCA News.

He lamented that Papuans cannot compete with non-Papuans who have better knowledge and skills.