Stories of Change

Top: Mohammad studies during a computer class. (Photo blurred to protect identities.) Bottom: Mohammed and his classmates play soccer at PKBM Insan Mandiri.

An Inclusive Educational Opportunity for Refugee Children in Jakarta

In Jakarta, as in many places, children go through school with other students of their own age. It’s a practical policy, but it doesn’t always work for refugee children. Often, refugee children have had their education interrupted by their time on the move, so they may behind other students their age. In other cases, the curriculum that refugee children followed in their home countries may not match up with what their peers are studying in their new home.

Our team in Jakarta, who work with refugee children from lots of different countries, know these challenges all too well. Thankfully, there is an alternative. PKBM Insan Mandiri is a flexible, accelerated education program for students of all ages. PKBM stands for Pusat Kegiatan Belajar Masyarakat, or Community Learning Center. PKBM Insan Mandiri accepts students of all races, ethnicies, socioeconomic status and nationalities. There are no age limits, so any student can study there. Students are divided into three classes: Class A corresponds to elementary school, Class B matches junior high school and Class C corresponds to high school.

“Education is really important,” says Pak Doni, the principal of PKBM Insan Mandiri. “It is never too late to study, and everyone should obtain an education. If you are considered too old or don’t match the requirements of a traditional school, please come to PKBM, since there are no age restrictions.”

Mohammed* is one of the refugee children who is studying at PKBM Insan Mandiri. He’s a 15-year-old who is originally from Sudan. He never had the chance to go to school in Sudan. In 2021, he began attending school at the School for Refugees in Jakarta in preparation for a transfer to public school. Unfortunately, he was too old to join the primary classes in public school. CWS collaborated with PKBM Insan Mandiri to find an alternative. 

Today, Mohammed is a Class A student at PKBM Insan Mandiri. He hasn’t missed a day of classes since he enrolled, and he is soaking up his education. The CWS team noticed, though, that PKBM Insan Mandiri didn’t have adequate facilities. We wanted to support them so that they could continue to welcome students like Mohammed. In December 2021, we offered funding to improve their facilities. 

In the past weeks, CWS has helped PKBM Insan Mandiri step up their COVID-19 precautions for students and staff. We also donated sports equipment, stationary, supplies for biology and social studies classes, and portable sinks. Pak Doni says that he and his team are grateful for the support from CWS, and they are committed to welcoming more refugee children in the future. He says that his school’s mission matches that of our CWS team: to help all children, especially refugee children, access education.

*Name changed to protect identity