Indonesia: Quake-affected schools receive aid to improve education

Sri Wahyuni, The Jakarta Post, Bantul, Yogyakarta

A school badly damaged by last year's powerful earthquake in Bantul, Yogyakarta has been selected for adoption by cigarette producer PT HM Sampoerna and will receive an education quality improvement program through its non-profit institution Sampoerna Foundation (SF).

The announcement was disclosed Thursday in a ceremony for the official handover of two senior high schools that have been rebuilt by the cigarette company in Bantul.

With Yogyakarta's Governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono X looking on, president of PT HM Sampoerna Martin G King handed over the schools to Bantul Regent Idham Samawi.

"We believe that education is the responsibility of all people and we take this seriously," Sampoerna's president King said.

He said his commitment to the fulfill this responsibility was shown through SF's various donations nationally to help improve education in Indonesia.

"We have since 2006 donated Rp 167.4 billion (US$18.6 million) through the Sampoerna Foundation," he said.

The two schools handed over Thursday were SMA 2 Bantul, which received a reconstruction program for its heavily damaged computer and language laboratories, and SMA 1 Pundong, which has been almost completely reconstructed by the company.

More than 1,000 square meters in SMA 2 have been reconstructed and rehabilitated along with nearly 1,700 square meters in SMA 1.

The total fund for the two projects was Rp 3.1 billion.

Speaking with The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the ceremony, SF's public relations officer Hendri B Satrio said SMA 1 Pundong would undergo the quality improvement program.

With assistance from SF and financial support from the cigarette company, the school is set to be included in the foundation's United School Program (USP) -- a program aimed to improve the quality of senior high schools in Indonesia.

"The basic idea (is to improve) the education quality of the schools without increasing school fees," Hendri said.

This would help create a number of quality schools across the country that could offer cheaper fees and provide financially disadvantaged students a better education, he said.

Since the program started in 2005 and with financial support from various donor companies, SF has adopted 14 state-owned senior high schools in Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan and Bali.

"Five years from now we want to have at least adopted a school in every province," Hendri said.

"We have just started to run the same program in private senior high schools, starting with two Islamic schools (madrasah) in Rembang (Central Java) and one in Madura (East Java)."