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    Posted April 12, 2014 by
    Jakarta, Indonesia
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    The Gap


    After I finished my internship program in 2013, as a final year of college student with only 2 hours a week class’ schedule, I decided to work and involve with local Non-Governmental Organization called International Humanity Foundation in Jakarta to kill time. I searched on Google and I found out that they have a program named At-Home Volunteer, which allows me to apply my skills and work online to help the grass-root organization’s development. So, I think this is a good chance for me to share my knowledge and gain experience working with Non-Profit.


    I got involved in the center as well became a 'unpaid' English and computer teacher, for underprivileged students in Cipinang area, East Jakarta, Indonesia. They live in the slum area; along side with smelly and trashy canal, where the families must share a tiny toilet stall and bathroom. Not even covered with roof! In the other side of Cipinang area, people live around/live next to the old Chinese graveyard. I was so surprised by the fact that every time they open the front door, they face a big Chinese tomb. How do I know about all of this? I didn’t make up the situation. Me and my fellow volunteers were scouting and recruiting students in those areas.


    Working with this organization gave me the insight of the big gap in Indonesia. I taught students who are mainly in junior high school and a few of them are in high school. Most of them still afford to go to school, some are struggling and got sponsored by the IHF sponsorship program, so they can continue their educations. The gap I found between ‘the haves and the haves not’ started after a few weeks of teaching computer classes. I was surprised that junior high school students don’t understand simple mathematics or simple logical thinking. “You go to the market to buy a tee shirt. The price is Rp 10,000.00. But there’s 50% discount for the tee shirt. How much money do you have to pay for the tee shirt?” That’s the sample case I gave them. They could answer quickly and correctly; Rp 5,000.00, without knowing the mathematic process behind it. Of course they can't solve the same case with complicated numbers. This is why they find it difficult to understand ‘IF function’ in Microsoft Excel. Let’s not think about how hard IF function is, but more like how did they pass the level and made it to high school. My co-worker found the similar problem when she taught fifth grader students who didn't know how to do long division. We were depressed.


    Just like in English class. Junior high school students don’t know every-day-vocabularies, such as sleep, eat, drink, etc. I struggled so much and I realized that I forgot something while teaching; the background gap. I assumed that my students know as much as I was as a student. Digital television, internet, English books, dictionary, movies, and music help me learn English easily, which those students don’t have the access to.


    Husnul, 18 year old girl, she used to be my student and she is one of the sponsored children. Husnul told me about her English teacher at school, who didn’t really teach. Students are neglected and sadly they still must pay for school. In Indonesia, education is not free. The economic theory is applied; you’ll get an excellent quality of education if you pay more money, you’ll get bad quality if you pay less. This causes the gap between lower class and middle class (Indonesian standard, US$20 a day spending) students wider.


    I don’t claim my self as a good teacher, but such experience make me realize that Indonesia needs more of qualified and certified teachers.


    Above it all, volunteering for the community is a rewarding experience. A lot of people travel across the country and help the community. Internet has the best sources of volunteering local and abroad. Volunteering is the best way to fill in your gap year or post broken heart with meaningful thing. I don’t write in the very beginning of this story that one of the reason I volunteer is having a broken heart. I did and do recommend you to volunteer and suck the negative energy.

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