ASIA/INDONESIA - The Church's commitment to education: a "Charity Run" for precarious teachers

Tuesday, 29 December 2020 human promotion   education   teachers   charity   caritas   pandemic  

Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) - "The funds that we are currently raising during this Christmas season will go not only to Catholic teachers but to all teachers who need it: as we celebrate the birth and presence of Jesus Christ, it is an offering for the vulnerable lives of precarious teachers and a spirit of collaboration from the Church aimed at expressing its empathy towards those most in need". This is what Anita Lie, professor at Widya Mandala Catholic University in Surabaya told Fides, illustrating the "Charity Run" organized by Caritas Indonesia with the support of the whole Indonesian Catholic Church.
This is a non-competitive race that serves as an extraordinary fundraiser for precarious teachers on which Anita Lie, member of the Commission for education of the Bishops' Conference, one of the organizing bodies of the Marathon, takes stock with Fides. "The sum we need is 12 billion rupees (about 840 thousand US dollars) and we now aim to raise at least 9".
In 2005 Indonesia launched an important initiative to improve the number and above all the skills and quality of its teaching staff and by 2018 about 50% of the nation's teachers were certified. Furthermore, 17% were qualified for certification and 30% were still not. The profession – according to a World Bank report - has become "more attractive" also due to the increase in salaries which on average amount to about 600 US dollars per month. However, this is not the case for everyone. Even though the minimum wage is about 167 dollars a month, an uncertified teacher earns an average salary of 40 dollars. This obviously applies to the many small businesses scattered throughout the archipelago that do not have government support but operate in places and regions where many parents fail to pay school fees. The Covid-19 pandemic has only made the situation worse. "Many teachers are employed by schools to meet immediate needs and are not paid by the government. Before the pandemic, schools could obtain funds in various ways: donations from parents of students or tuition fees in private schools. However, during the spread of Covid, many parents have lost their jobs and are unable to afford school fees. Therefore, schools have difficulty in paying teachers".
"This charity program - explains Anita – therefore consists of a collaboration between different organizations very concerned about the situation, aggravated by the pandemic, in which part-time or precarious teachers are found, in particular in remote regions". The idea was to organize a fundraiser in December. "We began on 1 December with an opening Mass celebrated by Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo, Archbishop of Jakarta, and concelebrated by other priests such as Fr. Gandhi Hartono, SJ, Secretary General of the Education Commission of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference. Caritas Indonesia will manage the funds raised by this gesture of charity for teachers in need, which has attracted many people not only inside but also outside the Church. "There are many who have responded enthusiastically to the call to do good for others and this is perhaps the most important thing: the culture of giving of oneself more than sport" concludes Anita Lie. (MG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 29/12/2020)