Tuesday, 21 August 2018

We are Rubella’s Heroes!

By Dolly Dupe and Ermi Ndoen
Rubella Heroes Wall at KIMS school. (C) UNICEF Indonesia/2018/Tc.Imel

Eleven-year old Audhyni closed her tiny eyes as her round face contorted with terror. The Grade Six student was seconds away from receiving the life-saving measles and rubella (MR) vaccine as part of the Indonesian Government’s mass vaccination campaign against MR.

A teacher who sat next to Audhyni wrapped her arms around her waist for comfort.

But as soon as the nurse was done with the injection; a sense of relief lifted Audhyni’s spirit.  

“It’s not painful at all,” she said smiling. “It felt like an ant was biting me,” she added to the laugh of teachers and other students who had thronged the classroom in Kupang International Montessori School (KIMS), in the provincial capital of Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT).

Within minutes Audhyni rushed to a nearby wall and dipped her hands into a bucket of paint.  She then pressed them firmly onto the wall – leaving behind colourful handprints on the white background.  

“I am a hero now - We are the heroes of Rubella”, she said with pride, showing her painted hands to her friends and teachers.
Once vaccinated, the children put a triumphant handprint on the wall. (C) UNICEF Indonesia/2018/Brigitta De Rosari

Lying in the southeast side of Indonesia, NTT is one of the 28 provinces where phase 2 of the vaccination campaign is taking place, in August and September 2018.  More than 1.7 million children in NTT Province are being targeted in this mass immunization drive, including Audhyni and her friends.

The campaign to vaccinate all children from measles and rubella began last year in six provinces of the island of Java.  Phase 1 was a huge success, with all 35 million children receiving the life-saving vaccines. Once phase 2 is completed this year, around 67 million Indonesians are expected to be vaccinated against measles and rubella.

MR vaccines not only protect children developing measles and rubella themselves, but also protect their future children from congenital defects caused by the rubella virus during pregnancy. These include hearing problems, visual impairment, cardiac abnormalities and intellectual disabilities. According to WHO, Indonesia was one of the top ten countries in the world with the most number of measles incidents as of 2015. 

The students, teachers and parents of KIMS school were all very eager to take part in the vaccination drive, having heard about the danger of measles and rubella. “We want to support the MR Campaign because it is a programme from the Government, and we want Indonesian children, especially our own children to be free from measles and rubella”, said Ms Dolly, the school principal.

“When KIMS got the letter from the puskesmas [Health Centre], we forwarded it [to the parents],” she said  “From the day we received the letter, we started sharing information with our students and answering any questions from them”.

To facilitate information sharing, the school then set up a group discussion on whatsapp.  “We tried to answer all the parents’ questions. We only shared information from trusted media and we encouraged them to join their children during the vaccination”.

Dolly and her team of teachers also went a step further to help encourage the students to have fun during what might otherwise be a scary time. “We used handprints [to make a] ‘Heroes Wall’ as appreciation for their fearlessness in facing the injection. It was also a way to distract them from their pain and, last but not least, we wanted to have fun on that day, which happened to fall on Friday, traditionally our fun activities’ day.”

Dolly and the other teachers used the slogan ‘We are Rubella’s Heroes’ as their school’s statement to encourage parents, children and their communities to join the MR campaign.
(C) UNICEF Indonesia/2018/Tc. Vanny

“As we can see from the pictures, even though the kids were terrified, they took the shot and after a couple of minutes they were eager to do the handprinting and forgot about the pain!”

The fun activities have even prompted other students who missed the vaccination due to ill health and other reasons, to ask for a follow up visit so they can put their handprints on the wall too.

Indeed, the children are now the real MR heroes.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Annual Report

 Welcome to UNICEF Indonesia's Annual Report 2017

Please download the full report here: English Bahasa Indonesia
SDGs Begin With Children
In her foreword, our Representative Gunilla Olsson mentions several programmes that you can read about or watch some great short videos, by clicking the links below.

At UNICEF, we believe sustainable development begins with children, and this year we came one step closer to making children more more visible in the SDGs. Together with the Government, we produced the SDG Baseline Report on Children in Indonesia, generating evidence that can be used to inform policy decisions.
You can download the full report, and explore the online dashboard here:
Bahasa Indonesia
SDG Online Dashboard

In Java we have trained midwives to use the Infobidan platform, so now over 20,000 women at the forefront of a newborn baby's care, have access to crucial information and advice, just by using their mobile phones.
You can read all about the programme here:
Bahasa Indonesia

We worked hard this year to give young people a voice and hear their views. Over 110,000 young people are now dialoguing with each other and decision makers (through the platform 'U-Report') to promote improved investments in children's wellbeing. Read about some of their results here:
Bahasa Indonesia

We also conducted a completely voluntary and first-of-its-kind wellbeing survey:
Pioneering survey asks 8-12-year-old Indonesians: what's life like?

A new report on data on monetary and multidimensional child poverty, produced together with the Central Bureau of Statistics, highlights inequities across the country. The report underpins the introduction of universal child grants by local governments in Aceh and Papua.
Download the full report here:
Bahasa Indonesia

30,000 adolescent girls and boys are now benefitting from increased knowledge and awareness about menstruation, helping to break through patterns of discrimination and keep girls in school. Watch a video about what they're learning here: MHM Awareness

An innovative SMS-based monitoring platform facilitated rapid response for the immunization of 35 million children during the Measles and Rubella campaign, led by the Ministry of Health. The platform is being replicated for interventions against malaria, HIV and other diseases. Read about the platform here:
Bahasa Indonesia

The successful implementation of a pilot literacy programme, leading to a twofold increase in literacy amongst early grade children in remote areas of Papua and West Papua.Watch the video here: Papua Reads

A new bullying prevention programme, led by adolescents in schools in Makassar, already resulting in a reduction by almost 30 per cent in bullying. Read about it here:
Bahasa Indonesia

Monday, 23 July 2018

The Magic of School Libraries in Papua

by Joel Bacha, Accelerator Project Director, Room to Read

@UNICEF/2018/STKIP/Sorong: SD Inpres 55 Klamono. School library after revitalization

Getting off the plane in Sorong in March, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was there to visit schools involved in the DFAT-funded initiative:  Rural and Remote Education Initiative for Papuan Provinces program.  Whatever lay ahead though, I was excited to see some of the adaptations the UNICEF team and partners had made to our school library methodology to meet the needs of schools in rural and remote areas with fewer resources. 

Room to Read has had the pleasure of sharing our methodologies with UNICEF through our partner Yayasan Literasi Anak Indonesia (YLAI), based in Bali.  Through our collaboration together, the UNICEF team and partners have developed 77 children’s books for the children of Papua and established libraries in 24  schools across 6 districts.  It is this collaboration that laid the foundation for an incredible visit to Papua. 

@UNICEF/2018/STKIP/Sorong: SD Inpres 55 Klamono. School library after  revitalization

Over the course of two days, we visited four schools.  We traveled on bumpy, windy roads and across bridges hovering over rocky forest-covered ravines.  Near Sorong, we visited SD Inpres 55 Klamono  about an hour outside of the city in a semi-rural area and SD Inpres 7 Makbon about three more hours out in a much more remote part of the district.  In the Jayapura area, we visited SD YPK Amai on the coast and SD YPK Wambenain the hills. 

What struck me first were the children who were visiting the libraries – the smiles on their faces as they walked over to the shelves, chose a book and then sat down on the floor to read intently.  When asking a 3rd grader at SD Inpres 7 Makbon what he likes about the library he answered, “there are so many books to choose from, I can read about anything. Even magic.”  This is the same level of joy we often witness among children in other countries – Nepal, Cambodia and Tanzania, for example – when visiting the libraries in their schools.  Similarly, in Papua, some schools had book check out systems set up for children to borrow books for one week at a time. 

The main difference with the libraries in Papua were the resources provided by UNICEF.  To promote sustainability, UNICEF provided schools only with the training and the storybook collection. It was then up to the school communities to provide the other resources.  There, the schools had to get creative – many found ways to use their existing shelving to house the books, most schools purchased notebooks to create their checkout system and other schools involved persons from the local community to paint murals on the walls to transform the library into a bright and vibrant child-friendly reading space. 

@UNICEF/2018/STKIP/Sorong: SD Inpres 7 Makbon. School library after  revitalization
The other stark difference that one will notice in all the schools we visited is that the libraries are functioning in a school system with very high levels of teacher and principal absenteeism.  School absenteeism is a huge challenge in Papua and an issue that UNICEF and partners are working with the local government to address.  In one of the schools near Jayapura, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade teachers were absent on the day we visited.  On this day, these students had their textbooks open in their classrooms and were studying on their own without a teacher.  To complement, the school security guard opened the library for the children to use during breaks.  In this particular school, the magic of the library offered another safe child-friendly learning space for children to use when their teachers were absent from school.  

Having been sharing strategies to support early grades literacy in Indonesia with Monika Nielsen since early 2015, it was wonderful to finally see some of those results in action. With the UNICEF program now in its third year, a trip to Papua to visit the program was a must.

@UNICEF/2018/STKIP/Sorong: SD Inpres 7 Makbon. School library after revitalization


globally, in the area of literacy, Room to Read collaborates with local communities, partner organizations and governments in 14 countries to ensure that primary school children can become independent readers. In Indonesia, Room to Read is currently sharing the lessons we have learned with Indonesia NGOs and local publishers to support two areas of the early grades literacy agenda: 1) fostering a habit of reading by establishing high-functioning school libraries and conducting effective reading activities in schools; and 2) increasing the amount of reading material for children by developing age-appropriate and culturally relevant storybooks.  As the UNICEF program in Papua focuses on literacy instruction in Grades 1, 2 and 3 classrooms, at its core, our programs are highly complementary.  

Monday, 5 March 2018

Yosua finds his voice

By Cory Rogers, Communication Officer

Yosua, 14, from Pringsewu, Lampung © Cory Rogers / UNICEF / 2017

Lampung: Last year, Yosua watched as, one after another, his friends began dropping out of school.

Erratic rains were causing rice crops either to wither, or to drown, and with the drop in yields, many families could no longer afford school fees. 

“My father said we had to fight for my education,” Yosua says in his home village of Panggungrejo in southern Sumatra Island. “So I stayed in school.”

Monday, 26 February 2018

‘I was one of the lucky ones’: a politician steps out on child marriage

Ibu Suraidah, head of the Mamuju parliament © Cory Rogers / UNICEF / 2017

By Cory Rogers, Communication Officer

West Sulawesi: In wet-season West Sulawesi Province, rainclouds drift east from sea to land, drenching groves of cacao trees in thick sheets of rain.

It’s a reliable cycle that makes West Sulawesi a top producer of chocolate. 

But here, 4 flying hours east of Jakarta, a separate, social cycle, is watering a bitter harvest.

“Every day, 375 girls are married in Indonesia,” says Amanda Bissex, UNICEF Indonesia Chief of Child Protection. “Every one of these marriages deprives girls of their right to a safe and protected childhood.”

One in six girls in West Sulawesi marry before turning 18. Ibu Suraidah, who heads the Mamuju District Parliament (DPRD) on the province’s western coast, knows well the toll such marriages take: As a 16-year-old back in 2001, she became a child bride herself.

It began with a furtive, afterschool relationship with a man five years older. Before long, things got serious, and Suraidah found herself pregnant. 

Overnight, marriage transformed from distant dream to urgent reality – and for a girl living in conservative Mamuju, a way to right a wrong.

“Today I tell teenagers to be careful…dating can force you to speed up your life,” Suraidah says. “We must find ways to avoid child marriage.”

Doing so is critical if all girls are going to realize their education rights, as child brides are four times less likely than unmarried girls to complete secondary education.

The soaring drop-out rate is driven partly by the fact that, while boys can marry at 19, for girls the age is 16 – right in the middle of high school.

Suraidah was determined not to let her education become a casualty of marriage. But her growing belly became a liability that threatened to derail her studies. 

“The school was embarrassed … but I really wanted to go on to the next grade,” she says. “My parents insisted I stay in school.”

“Today I tell the Dinas [education agency] and school principals that if there’s a teenager or student who gets pregnant, to not ostracize them. The psychological impact is significant, and not all of these children will [be able to] continue their schooling.”

“I was one of the lucky ones.”

Despite her determination, staying in Mamuju wasn’t much of an option, given the stigma Suraidah would face as a young mother in high school, she says. So after a big wedding and the birth of her son, Suraidah transferred to a school in provincial capital Makassar; close enough to come home, but far enough to be anonymous. The young couple left their infant boy with Suraidah’s parents in Mamuju, however, so that Suraidah could focus on school.

Two years later, diploma in hand, Suraidah was excited to apply to prestigious universities outside Sulawesi. “But I decided I had to put family first,” she says. She ended up enrolling at a local university, to be close to her son and her parents. 

The proximity to her father, himself a former DPRD lawmaker, proved fateful. “Of the seven children, I asked my father why is it me you want to follow in your footsteps?

“All he said was that as his child, he just knew,” Suraidahlaughs. “But it’s funny he’d pick his daughter, seeing as politics is such a man’s world.” 

Of Mamuju’s 35 DPRD legislators, just 6 are women. It’s something Suraidah would like to change.

“It is vital to have more women in politics, because who understands what women need better than women? It can be difficult for men to find that voice.”

Before long, Suraidah found herself head of her party and later, head of the parliament, a post she will keep until 2019.

Today, Suraidah strives to be a voice for women and children by embracing her past and the perspective it’s shaped. She is a strong believer, for example, that all girls have the right to an education on how to protect their bodies.

“If it’s not there [already], we must advocate with schools [to introduce education] on it, she says. 

“Reproductive health knowledge has to be delivered, because young people are very vulnerable.” 

She plans to use 2018 to shine a light on issues facing women, especially the issue of child neglect. She herself has adopted an abandoned child, and is in the process of formalizing the adoption with local authorities.

“Next year I also have [plans to support] an advocacy programme for teenagers. I want to motivate youth to know that even though I married young [and was able to get an education], not everyone was as lucky as I was.”

Engaging the public will be key to stopping the child marriage cycle.

“We need to advocate to the community that marriage must first be fully established in the soul and the body. If the body is not mature, there will be health problems, like [higher] maternal and child mortality rates, for example,” she says. 

Research shows that complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the second-leading cause of death for girls between ages 15 and 19. 

“We need more discussion on child marriage, and I’m someone who is willing to do that,” she says. 

“I don’t want what happened to me to happen to anyone else.” 

“Not everyone could have survived like I did.”