Friday, 21 April 2017

A Lesson in Gratitude

By: Yoan Mei Dyandari - UNICEF Indonesia Fundraiser

Yoan Mei (center) shares stories with schoolchildren in Pantaran Village, West Sulawesi. ©UNICEF / 2017 

Visiting Mamuju, a city in West Sulawesi, was an exciting opportunity for me. I was lucky to get to join the UNICEF team and Masagena, a local NGO, on a visit to Pantaraan Village where a “One-Roof School” (SATAP) has been built.
Supported jointly by UNICEF and Masagena, the SATAP schools combine primary education (grades 1-6) and junior secondary education (grades 7-9) in one compound. The aim is to make the transition to secondary education both physically easier and financially more feasible for poor students living in remote and isolated areas.

Getting to this particular SATAP, however, was no walk in the park: The road was littered with sharp rocks and pocked by potholes. The sun burned with searing heat.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

My UNV Story: Ilham Akbar

By: Ilham Akbar, Technology, Youth & Innovation Officer

Ilham, right, takes part in assignment preparation in Colombo Sri Lanka
When I checked my email sometime in August 2016, I saw a subject line that that read: “NOW HIRING: Tech Jobs for Social Good”. Two of my favourite organizations, UNICEF and CISCO, were partnering! I decided to apply straightaway.

I had reasons for this. One was that I had successfully completed a Cisco certification on computer networking. Another was a burgeoning interest in volunteerism, which began early on in college when a friend asked me to join a student group at Brawijaya University in Malang, East Java, where I was studying for my bachelor’s degree.

This group, KOIN Malang, focuses on giving street children avenues for getting an education both inside and outside the classroom. When I first witnessed for myself the conditions under which street children live, I have to say it was a shock. Not just the poverty, but the lack of opportunity.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

There is Gold on the Tip of the Rattan Stick

By: Irna G. Setywati, STKIP Muhammadiyah Sorong

A boy takes notes during a regular school day in the Papua highlands
© Nick Baker/ UNICEF / 2015  
"There is gold on the tip of rattan stick”.  So goes a common proverb in Papua.

The proverb is especially popular among primary school teachers in coastal areas like Makbon and Sorong – invoked to justify disciplining children by hitting them with a stick.

Late last year, grade teachers and principals at four schools in Makbon subdistrict, Sorong, received training on positive discipline.

Positive discipline involves providing positive reinforcement for good choices as well as consequences for misbehaviour. The training equips teachers with an alternative to corporal or physical punishment for managing students’ attendance and behaviour in the classroom.

Wilhelmina, a third grade teacher from Malaumkarta Primary School, recalled the training with a smile. She used the example of one of her students, Simon, who was absent for a month but had recently returned to school.

“I used to raise my voice when asking my students why they were absent. Today, I’ve changed the way I communicate with Simon,” she said.
“I wanted him to not be afraid of me, and I believed that if I spoke to him politely and with respect, he would come to school regularly.”

Mery, a first grade teacher in Makbon, also shared her story. Prior to the training she would bring a rattan stick to class. She would either hit it on the table for attention or strike students for misbehaving – even for failing to complete their homework.

Following the training, Mery abandoned the stick and introduced a reward system to incentivize good behaviour. She said the reward system was a much more effective method for keeping order in the classroom.

“I used to use the stick to keep students quiet because it was difficult to manage them. But now they follow the classroom [reward system] agreement so I no longer use the rattan,” she explained.

Neither Wilhelmina nor Mery knew about positive discipline before the UNICEF training. They now have a greater understanding of how corporal punishment damages young people, and an appreciation for how compassion and positive reinforcement can mold children’s character and self-esteem.

Without a greater awareness of the negative effects of corporal punishment, both agreed that violence against children will persist in schools.

Mobile Health Pilot Boosting Immunization in Urban Java

By Cory Rogers, Communication Officer

Karin Hulshof wipes a tear away from a child who will soon receive a health checkup at a local health post in West Jakarta. © Cory Rogers / UNICEF / 2017  

The line curls out of the door and into the alley, where dozens of mothers stand patiently, cradling newborns under an early morning drizzle.

“I’ll wait for the line to thin out and take my baby in later,” Eka* told UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific (EAPRO) Regional Director Karin Hulshof in her doorstep during Karin’s visit to Indonesia last week, her first as EAPRO Regional Director.

Like other young mothers in this West Jakarta slum, Eka looks forward to the opening of the posyandu (community-level health post) each month. “The difference is I’m not so eager to get wet,” she laughed.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Planting PAUD Hope in Papua

By: Cory Rogers, Communication Officer


Sorong, Papua Province, Indonesia -  Just 15 minutes east of the Sorong port sits STIKP Muhammadiyah Sorong, a serene teacher’s college awash in the blues of the sea.

Between two mid-campus ponds, Herman, a third-semester student at the college, winces as he relays an early school memory.
“We often didn’t even have paper to use [at school],” he says, one hand twirling pen strokes, the other scratching an ear. “So we took notes on our thighs instead.”
Peers were left to wonder: How many words even fit on a five-year-old’s knee?
“I want to return home after graduating [to teach],” Herman continued. “You know, half the time, the teacher didn’t even bother to show up.”

Friday, 10 March 2017

A City Belongs to Children: How Surakarta Establishes Its Trademark as a Child-Friendly City

By: Kinanti Pinta Karana, UNICEF Indonesia Communication Specialist

From left to right: UNICEF Indonesia Representative Gunilla Olsson, the Mayor of Surakarta Hadi ‘Rudy’ Rudyatmo and the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General Marta Santos Pais Photo ©UNICEF Indonesia/Kinanti Pinta Karana

Surakarta in central Java, earns a lot of praise for its commitment to put children at the centre of its policies. The city has been in a partnership with UNICEF since 2002 to improve child protection, with birth registration as a priority. In 2015, Surakarta received the Child Friendly City Award from President Joko Widodo, the city’s former mayor. In the last days of February, the UN Special Representative to the Secretary General (SRSG) for Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais paid the city a visit along with several UNICEF staff including Representative Gunilla Olsson, to see how things are being done.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

From Youth to Youth: Creating Change-Makers to End Violence against Children

By Melania Niken Larasati, Child Protection Officer

Makassar workshop participants vow to end violence against children

Jakarta: “Physical violence is not a violation of human rights as long as it serves a higher purpose.”

At the statement, the audience began to shift uncomfortably, as did I: I wondered, if such a view could be so casually stated here in Makassar – at a workshop aimed at eliminating violence against children (VAC) -- how widespread was it among youth?

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Pushing for better early education in North Lombok

By Cory Rogers, Communication Officer
Children climb at the PAUD Banu Manaf playground in Terujuk Village, North Lombok

North Lombok: Few preschools or kindergartens (PAUD) in Indonesia boast a slide, a swing and a basketball hoop. Fewer still keep them inside. 

"We had to move all that indoors to keep it safe from adults," said Ibu Lastri, principal at Terpadu PAUD in northwest Lombok, a Muslim-majority island just east of Bali.

A library of children’s books abuts
a slide in a classroom at PAUD Terpadu
"I guess they didn't have access to these things when they were kids!" she laughed.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Youth Movers Taking Action to End Violence Against Children

by Ryan Febrianto, Child Protection Officer, UNICEF Indonesia

Youth leaders gather for a photo following the Youth Discussion for Child Protection Forum ©Unicef/Ryan Febrianto/2017 

JAKARTA - Ghivo Pratama, a young man from Padang, West Sumatra, gestures excitedly while he talks about visiting junior high schools in Bandung and Jakarta as part of ACTION, a youth anti-violence community. They were there to talk about tolerance: “Every child has to be protected from all types of violence,” he said at the Youth Discussion for Child Protection forum.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Designing Solutions for Indonesia’s Children in the Age of Haze

By Cory Rogers, Communication Officer

©Center for International Forestry Research/2014
Jakarta: When Indonesia’s yearly agricultural fires start up each fall, belching acrid haze through Borneo, Sumatra and over borders, the air one breathes becomes a health hazard unto itself: Schools shut down, thousands fall ill, and some will die from respiratory ailments.

Few dispute that haze is deadly, but solutions have been slow in coming, leaving millions of (mostly) rural Indonesians exposed to harm. Indeed, despite land and forest burning laws passed following the 2015 El Niño-powered haze (an event that one study says may have caused 100,000 premature deaths), haze returned in 2016. There is a clear need for new ideas.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A Girl-Centered Movement for Change

By Felice Bakker, JPO, Child Protection

An illustration of workshop proceedings depicting the characteristics of the Indonesian Adolescent Girls Network ©UNICEF/Niken Larasati/2016
Jakarta: “The creation of a strong generation will not be achieved if the mother, who is the first source of education for a child, is a girl who is not yet ready to become a mother,” remarked women’s rights advocate and former First Lady (1999-2001) Ibu Sinta Nuriyah during the launch of the Indonesian Adolescent Girls Network in Jakarta.
The two-day workshop, held by UNICEF in partnership with Flamingo Social Purpose and Rumah KitaB, brought together advocates from 28 Indonesia-based organizations that focus on girls’ issues like child marriage, reproductive health and gender equality. The Network has been established to enable members to coordinate and implement interventions, scale them up, and develop synergies to achieve the best outcomes for adolescent girls. 

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Let's High Five a Facer!

By: Dinda Veska


A facer telling the UNICEF Programme in the mall.
©UNICEF Indonesia/2016/Surabaya.

‘They’re just like credit card salesmen, stopping us rudely!” the thinking goes. ‘If I could just avoid them, I would!’ At best people consider fundraising boring; at worst, it’s an act of pestering.

The fundraisers - we call them ‘Facers’ in Indonesia - are these young people wearing a UNICEF t-shirt we often see on the street or in the mall. In fact, they do an incredibly important job, informing people about the challenges faced by Indonesia’s most vulnerable and marginalized children.

Last week, I had an opportunity to join four UNICEF-Facers on a trip to Mamuju District, West Sulawesi, where they learned about the implementation of UNICEF-supported programmes. My first impression was that they were super-talkative. A useful trait, I thought, for people soliciting donations.              

On their trip to the Mamuju, the four Facers asked all kinds of questions to the local organizations that are implementing the government-run, UNICEF-supported programmes.  The questions were deep and informed, for instance concerning how data and facts were uncovered in the field.  

Later, armed with this newly gathered knowledge, the Facers will be better equipped to answer questions from potential donors. Indeed, that is the idea; to give Facers a better sense of the true impacts of interventions for children by sending them to the programme sites.

The motivation to learn and the spirit of service displayed by the four Facers in Mamuju was truly inspirational. Take Mey, a young woman who decided to become a Facer after her little sister died at a young age. “Maybe this is my chance to do something for my sister,” she told me. “Even though it’s not directly for her, at least I can say I am doing good things for children. Seeing the UNICEF banner at the job fair made me remember how my little sister died and I wasn’t by her side,” Mey said.

Understanding before judging, perhaps that’s the best thing to do. It may be irritating to have to sidestep Facers on the street when we are in a rush. But now I know I won’t always try to avoid them: They truly work hard to learn about the problems facing children in Indonesia and to raise money for a worthy cause. That deserves our appreciation.

So, the next time you see a Facer on the street, instead of running away, give them a high five and say good luck!

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things, with great love.” Mother Teresa

UNICEF  facers meet children in the field.
©UNICEF Indonesia/2016/Dinda.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Back to School in Pidie Jaya

By Cory Rogers, Communication Officer

Second grade students study in an education tent set up days after the 6.5m earthquake tore through three regencies, killing hundreds and displacing thousands in north western Aceh Province © UNICEF Indonesia / 2017/ Cory Rogers

Pidie Jaya, Aceh: The crack starts near the door and cuts to the back wall through dusty tiles, a distance of some six or seven metres.

Considering the wreckage just a stone’s throw away – where homes lie in ruins, schools in piles of debris – the crack, which teachers at MIN Pangwa Islamic elementary school describe as the worst of the earthquake damage, might seem almost trivial.

But to Rajwa, 10, a fifth grade student, it is a kind of trigger -- a frightening reminder of an event that killed two of his classmates and forced his family from their home for weeks.

Rajwa outside MIN Pangwa © UNICEF Indonesia / 2017/ Cory Rogers

“I don’t want the earthquake to come back,” Rajwa says. “I don’t want to see the crack, I don’t want to go in there.”

Now, thanks to a tent supplied by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNBP) on 27 December, Rajwa doesn’t have to.

Like students at some 200 schools across the three affected regencies, Rajwa will use the tent as a learning space as he awaits repairs to his classroom. It is a recovery initiative grounded in the belief that in times of disasters, education rises in importance.

A schoolteacher assists a child in one of two BNBP-supplied tents that allow students to keep learning as their damaged classrooms are repaired. © UNICEF Indonesia / 2017/ Cory Rogers

“Children don’t need education even in emergencies; they need education especially in emergencies,’’ UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake has said. Indeed, research shows that in times of crisis, schools provide structure and routine that helps kids cope with fear, loss and stress.

With this in mind, the Government -- partnering with an array of organizations, including UNICEF -- has launched “Ayo Kembali Ke Sekolah”, a back-to-school campaign that seeks to achieve full attendance at schools by early January. At MIN Pangwa, teachers say attendance has reached about 70 per cent.

Down the road at SDN Peulandok Tunong, however, and teachers say students have been showing up for weeks.

“All but two of our 93 students are back today,” says Ibu Wardiah, deputy principal of the elementary school. A crop of second-graders practice reading clocks behind her, their last lesson of the day.

The school, which sits three kilometres down a narrow, paddy-fringed road, collapsed in the earthquake, making it one of the first to receive a tent on 11 December by the Ministry of Education. A second tent has since been set up by the BNBP to house more learning activities.   

 Ibu Wardiah, (far left) and fellow SDN Peulandok Tunong teachers gather outside a tent supplied by UNICEF to the Ministry of Education. Theirs was one of the first schools to reconvene in the early days after the earthquake. © UNICEF Indonesia / 2017/ Cory Rogers

The school’s close-knit crew of teachers saw the tents were key to helping children recover, so they went about organising fun and games with the help of local NGOs. On one memorable afternoon, volunteers came to teach kids a song about surviving earthquakes, a song students now know by heart.

“This is my village, these are my children,” said Ibu Wardiah, who has been teaching at the school for over 30 years. “We don’t know if other schools are like this, but we know ours is,” she said proudly.

Only on 2 January did teachers begin using the formal curriculum, “because in the end, reading, counting and writing -- these are the crucial things we have to teach our children,” Ibu Wardiah explained.

In locations where schools were damaged beyond repair, semi-permanent structures like this one at SDN Peulandok Tunong are being built by government contractors to replace tents. These temporary classrooms will allow children to study in a safer, more comfortable setting as they await the construction of their permanent facilities © UNICEF Indonesia / 2017/ Cory Rogers.

According to head of the Pidie Jaya Department of Education Pak Saiful, other schools have struggled to replicate SDN Peulandok Tunong’s attendance success, partly because parents are still worried about safety; it was not lost on them, he said, that schools experienced some of the worst damage.

“We must ensure new schools are quake-resistant,” he said, blaming poor design and construction. “This cannot happen again.”

Poor construction lead to damage like this at SDN Peulandok Tunong, seen here just days after the quake. © UNICEF Indonesia / 2017/ Yusra Tebe

According to UNICEF Indonesia Programme Assistant Said Ikram, “in Aceh it’s been lucky that the big earthquakes happened either before children arrived at school or after they went home. This earthquake has opened the eyes of people in Pidie Jaya about building safer schools."

With UNICEF’s assistance, authorities are still determining how many schools will need to be rebuilt. In the meantime, getting tents up and semi-permanent classrooms built will continue to be Pak Saiful’s top priority.

“We still have a need for 37 tents [as of 3 January], “he said. “My focus this month is to get as many students [as possible] back in school so they don’t fall behind for the national exam,” he said. The exams, scheduled for the spring, determine whether students are able to advance to the next grade.

Despite the test's importance, teachers at MIN Pangwa say it will be crucial to ease students back to normalcy at their own pace.

“For example, we usually let the students go at 12pm, but today let’s see how it goes,” said one schoolteacher who preferred not to be named. “Many [children] are still dealing with trauma, so it is important we don’t push, that we remain flexible,” he added.

For his part, Rajwa says he is excited to start learning again, scary cracks notwithstanding. He dreams of becoming an Army soldier, and says school will help him get there.

“We’ve been out of school so long,” he said, eyes darting to the ground in front of him. “I’m still scared sometimes, but coming here makes me happy.” 

Students at MIN Pangwa line up to buy cheap sticks of a lunchtime beef sausage known as sosis © UNICEF Indonesia / 2017/ Cory Rogers

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Yogyakarta survey reveals challenges and opportunities for ensuring access to clean water and sanitation

 By Aidan Cronin, Chief of WASH, Mitsunori Odagiri, UNICEF WASH Officer, and Bheta Aryad, Social Policy Specialist, UNICEF Indonesia

Water quality sampling in Yogyakarta © UNICEF Indonesia / 2016/ Aidan Cronin

The Government of Indonesia has taken on a leading role in the South-East Asia region and globally in implementing the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One example of this commitment are the Government’s efforts to harmonize its own Five Year Development Plan (RPJMN) agenda with SDG 6 on the universal availability of clean water and sanitation by 2030. The RPJMN 2015-2019 is even more ambitious and seeks to ensure that 100 per cent of Indonesia’s population has access to safe drinking water by the end of 2019.

There is a clear commitment to progress. But a lack of evidence is blocking the way.

To address the problem, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Planning Ministry BAPPENAS, carried out a Water Quality Survey in the province of Yogyakarta in September last year as part of the National Socio-Economic Survey (Susenas). It was the first time such surveys were combined.

The Water Quality Survey carried out in Yogyakarta aimed to create a detailed overview of water quality, sanitation and hygiene at the household level, and to provide a baseline estimate of Indonesia’s progress on SDG water and sanitation development targets. It also aimed to provide data on the quality of drinking water for the Government of Yogyakarta and relevant stakeholders.

Nearly 1,000 households were surveyed for the study by a BPS Yogyakarta team. Detailed water analysis, meanwhile, was conducted by the Ministry of Health’s Centre for Environmental Health Engineering and Control of Diseases (BBTKLPP), with the main focus on the detection of E.coli faecal contamination. 

The analysis concluded that 89 per cent of source water samples were contaminated with E.coli; this despite high levels of access to an “protected water source”. The finding suggests that even protected drinking water sources remain at high risk of faecal contamination.

Around 67.1 per cent of samples of household drinking water, measured at the point of consumption, were found to be contaminated with E. coli. While boiling water was able to reduce the level of contamination, it was not found to eliminate traces of the bacteria altogether.

These two figures are of course very worrying. High levels of faecal contamination in source and household drinking water were found to correlate with poverty, rurality and low education levels, highlighting an urgent need for targeted interventions for the most vulnerable. The proportion of households with access to safely managed drinking water and sanitation facilities, as per the definition of the SDGs, were estimated at 8.5 per cent and 45.5 per cent, respectively. 

The survey team had to master additional tasks including delivering an additional dedicated water quality questionnaire along with taking water samples from the source and at the point of consumption in the house and then delivering the samples to the laboratory within 4 to 6 hours.  All these efforts have contributed to making Indonesia one of the few countries committed to establishing a baseline understanding of water safety in the country. For this the Government deserves to be further commended.

The report, launched by the Minister of BAPPENAS, Bambang Brodjonegoro, the Head of BPS, Kecuk Suhariyanto and UNICEF Representative Gunilla Olsson, recommends that the study be replicated in other provinces, and advises local governments to implement routine water-quality testing. It also urges improved coordination between central and local levels of government to seize on the new opportunities for progress that have been identified.


UNICEF is proud to have been able to provide technical support for such an important endeavour, as safe water is a key contributor to public health, and particularly to children’s health.


We know that over 40 per cent of infant deaths, for example, are caused by two killers: diarrhoea and pneumonia. We also know that water, sanitation and hygiene -- especially handwashing with soap before eating and after using the toilet -- can drastically cut these numbers. Studies have shown that the improvement of the water quality can reduce diarrhoea incidence by up to 30 per cent.


It has also become clear that water, sanitation and hygiene plays a crucial role in reducing malnutrition. Indonesia has a severe stunting problem, with 37 per cent of all children under five being stunted or too short for their age, constraining cognitive development and productivity later in life. A recent UNICEF study showed that children whose families lacked safe drinking water and proper sanitation were at a heightened risk of stunting.


“During the MDG period (2000-2015), Indonesia successfully reduced the proportion of people lacking access to a safe water sources by more than half. That is an incredible accomplishment. Today, the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) have shifted the emphasis from the source to the safety of the water. Doing so offers a unique opportunity to move ahead, as no SDG will be considered met if it is not met for all, everywhere.


The water quality survey proves we know how to chart a way forward, even if the road ahead is long.


To see a short Youtube clip on the this work please go to

Bahasa Indonesia: