Friday, 25 April 2014

Indonesia celebrates children’s rights with innovative solutions to development challenges

By Sarah Grainger

Anies Baswedan takes quality education to rural Indonesia through a social movement with young people. © UNICEF Indonesia/2014/Harimawan

JAKARTA, 24 April 2014 – UNICEF Indonesia brought together a number of leading innovators at an event in Jakarta’s Erasmus Huis on Wednesday to present their ideas on how to tackle some of the key challenges children continue to face in this booming South-East Asian economy. 

The TED-style event, called ‘ACTIVATE talks’, was part of UNICEF’s celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). UNICEF has also declared 2014 the “Year of Innovations and Equity”.

“We need the zeal and energy of this country's innovators, entrepreneurs, adventurers and risk takers to think out of the box and support the Indonesian government in ensuring that children and young people have what they need to fulfil their rights and achieve their dreams,” said UNICEF Representative in Indonesia, Angela Kearney during the opening of the event.

The group of innovators included five speakers who work on new ways to improve access to education and energy, to promote breastfeeding and to combat malaria.

The speakers addressing questions received via twitter.
© UNICEF Indonesia/2014/Harimawan.

Anies Baswedan, the 44-year-old President of Paramadina University in Jakarta, chairs an NGO called Indonesia Mengajar (Teaching Indonesia) that recruits young, educated Indonesians to teach in remote and inaccessible parts of the country.

“We realised many young people want to help improve the quality of education for others but they don’t want to make a lifetime commitment,” he said. “So we started thinking outside of the box and we set up a system where well-educated, intelligent young people could teach in remote areas for just a few months or years. When they move on, we send another young person to replace them.”

In the health sector, Dr. Ahmad Aziz has carried out pioneering work with isolated coastal communities in Northern Maluku to help them find solutions to the problem of malaria. Their answers included draining lagoons and tackling mosquito breeding sites by planting spices and other cash crops.

Mother-of-two Mia Sutanto is a breastfeeding champion. She launched Indonesia’s first mother-to-mother support groups and has harnessed the power of social media to spread her message about the importance of breastfeeding.

Mia Sutanto has used social media to support breastfeeding mothers.
© UNICEF Indonesia/2014/Harimawan.

Toshi Nakamura, the co-founder of the non-profit organisation Kopernik, focuses on making life-changing technology such as solar power, safe cooking stoves or water purification products available to poor communities. His organisation has come up with innovative ways to measure the impact such technologies are having, using tablet applications (apps) to help collate survey data and asking communities to send feedback via SMS text messages.

Tri Mumpuni, a fellow of the global social entrepreneur network Ashoka, talked about how to use Indonesia’s vast natural resources as a reliable source of energy for rural Indonesia. She is working on economic incentives and financing programmes to increase the use of hydropower.

“Children make up more than a third of Indonesia’s population,” said Linda Amalia Sari Gumelar, the Minister for Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection. “We have to invest in them and make sure they grow up healthier, smarter and protected from violence.”

Indonesia is one of 18 countries worldwide to hold an ‘ACTIVATE talks’ event in 2014. UNICEF will work with the presenters to further strengthen the development of innovations for children in Indonesia and other countries.

Highlights of the ‘Activate talks’ events and presentations will be featured in this year’s State of the World’s Children report, which will be launched on 20 November 2014, the actual 25th anniversary of the CRC.

The presentations sparked a reaction from young Indonesians in the audience.
© UNICEF Indonesia/2014/Harimawan.