Papuan officials plead for cultural awareness

Papua born officials say the development of people in the provinces should be based on local culture., 8 April 2010

“Basically, human resource development in Papua must be based on its cultural uniqueness and characteristics,” said Indonesian transport minister Freddy Numberi.

He was speaking to about 300 people, mostly Papuans, attending a symposium in the hall of the University of Indonesia (UI) in Depok, West Java.

The April 7-9 symposium, “The Development of Papua and Fundamental Rights, Public Service and Bureaucratic Capacity, Management and Usage of Natural Resources and Tribal Rights, and Human Resource Development,” was organized by UI and the Jayapura-based University of Cendrawasih.

Numberi said the identification of issues concerning human resource and ethnic group differences in the province should be done in a proportional way.

Major development programs should be ones able to meet Papuans’ basic needs in all aspects of life such as education, health, religion, culture and human rights.

He also maintained that central government should involve local religious organizations and leaders in ongoing development programs. By doing so, he said, central government would not serve only as “a fireman” when social conflicts emerge.

In order to improve the education of Papuans, Governor Barnabas Suebu said he established long-distance study facilities in remote villages earlier this year. “Through these facilities, schools located in remote areas may have science and other necessary subjects just like schools located in towns have,” he said.

“My aim is to make Papuans a learning society: a society that always develops itself based on science and the newest technology for the sake of its own welfare,” he maintained.

He, however, pointed out that a weak economic situation among Papuans and a lack of qualified teachers have become the main factors behind poor educational conditions in the province.

The Protestant-majority province of Papua has a population of about 3 million and more than 300 ethnic groups.

A survey conducted in 2006-2007 by the province’s central statistics board revealed that the number of Papuans who had access to education was only 40 percent of the total population.