Albertus Vembrianto

On Civillization

Papuan parents trust the role of teachers in making their children have the opportunity for a better future, although those teachers are settlers in Papua. Papuans only gives this kind of trust to teachers, medical workers, and monks or nuns; never to members of the military or civil servants. This distrust is related to military torture Papuans have endured, especially in central highland areas since 1961 up to now.

Schools are like cultural agents charged with cleaning up after the downfalls of the past that have resulted from prolonged military repression. Teachers who come in from outside Papua are more like instructors of how to be modern, instead of providing education based on Papuan culture and Papuan children’s past life context. Classrooms become borders around their own lives, sheltering from their past life context. What is the practice of teaching to be modern like in the classroom?

Teachers are told that corporal punishment is a legitimate sanction for rebellious or naughty Papuan children. The idea of rebelliousness and naughtiness is actually related to their assumption that Papuans are primitive. This assumption has crucial effects on the mission and, method of education. Education is imagined as an effort to rebuke primitive culture and graft ‘modern’ culture on to Papuan children.

Children entering school gate, which is painted in red and white, the colors of the Indonesian flag. Entering school is a process of becoming Indonesian.

The situation of teaching-learning inside the class in Mimika Regency, Papua. The teacher holds a long, small wood. This is a kind of intimidation message. That wood can be beaten to the students when they are not obedient to teachers who are migrants (non-Papuan).

A first grader student at an elementary school in Mimika Regency, Papua, showing the results of his/her learning process to write. In writing lessons, how to write letters correctly and the completeness of the letters in each word, are not the priority of the teacher in teaching process.

A schedule for Papuan children in elementary school, there is no local material such as curricula for local language and culture in the schedule

Classrooms are new living spaces that introduce children to the new knowledge, new trees, and new life skills. Those new things have no relation with and are not based on the reality of (Papuan) children’s everyday life.

Non-Papuan teachers tend to be reluctant to get involved in the local context. Alternative learning methods are applied occasionally, such as learning outside the classroom. But, teachers still use textbooks that were prepared based on non-Papuan context. Alternative methods are applied merely to avoid sleepy students inside the classrooms.

Education in Papua employs priority programs for children who are considered academically excellent. This creates borders for the children between the excellent and non-excellent students. This program has made Papuan children become exclusive and not engage or interact with difference.

Words taken from scriptures such as ”ask and ye shall be”, “seek and ye shall receive” are almost always written in the classroom walls to motivate students. Laziness and waywardness are considered as actions that bring the wrath of God. In this context, education, however, has made the students unaccustomed to human reasoning such as causal relationships, personal responsibility, personal relationships, etc.

A schedule for Papuan children in elementary school, there is no local material such as curricula for local language and culture in the schedule.

A classroom in Mimika Regency, Papua with pictures of Indonesian heroes. There is no picture of a hero from Papua.

Students in Mimika Regency, Papua, followed a training to become junior police officers. In addition to the army, the police are figures who are part of the collective trauma of the Papuan people related to the violence treatment from security forces which is still happening today.

Graffiti on a chair in an elementary school in District Indawa, Lanny Jaya, Papua: I leave here this name Romi Waker from…, because I am still suffering in this chair – interpretation of sentence in the chair.

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