In a single academic year, three schools in Tebing Tinggi, Jambi, successfully increased graduation rates for grade 9 and 12 students to nearly double than that of the previous year. They went from having a less than 50 percent graduation rate, to now having a collective 96 percent graduation rate. Some students were event enrolled into a state university – something that did not happen the year before.
How did they do it? Hard work and motivation. But it’s where that motivation came from that’s changing the lives of students in Jambi’s Tebing Tinggi subdistrict.
The schools are located near Asia Pulp & Paper’s Lontar Papyrus mill, a pulp and paper mill employing more than 2,000 people living in and around Tebing Tingi. A group of mill employees with children in the district were concerned with the low graduation rates. The employees approached the Lontar Papyrus Public Affairs group to see what could be done to make a difference and to help the children take advantage of the life-changing opportunities a quality education can provide.
Working in partnership with Al-Hidayah mosque and Lontar Papyrus’ charity division, the group created a new mentoring and tutoring initiative for ninth and twelfth grade students preparing for National Examinations. The after-school study group started in July 2007, with seven Lontar Papyrus employees volunteering as mentors. The first year saw 200 ninth graders and 140 twelfth graders from three high schools enroll in the program.
The volunteers provide tutoring in math, physics, chemistry and English – all subjects of the National Exam. Classes take place in rooms in Al-Hidayah mosque twice a week. Each session starts at 8 p.m. and lasts for 1.5 hours, consisting of tutorials, question and answers, discussion and mock exams. Each volunteer from the Lontar Papyrus mill tutors a class of 35 to 40 students.
The program is free for all students that are interested in joining, which is one of the reasons why the response from students, parents and schools has been very positive. Lontar Papyrus’s BAZIS division (a division which collects and manages employee donations or ‘zakat,’ a form of charity based on Islamic values) donates the text books and supplies needed by the students.
Education is an important aspect of a child’s life. It opens doors for the future that otherwise would not exist. It can help raise a young person’s confidence by strengthening his capabilities, and help contribute to the community and country in a positive way.
However, despite the fact that everyone has a right to education, good and proper education is not always accessible. This is especially true in developing countries such as Indonesia, where the quality of education is often difficult to access outside of the major cities.
By the end of the 2007/2008 academic year, the graduation rate of students joining the program increased more than 90 percent over the previous academic year. One high school ranked third in Tanjung Jabung Barat regency for the most twelve grade students graduating. Four graduates got accepted to state universities.
The after school program is so well known among students and schools in the Tebing Tinggi subdistrict, where Lontar Papyrus mill operates, it inspired other schools in the area to hold their own after school tutorial classes.
Public-private partnerships like this mentoring program can help change people’s lives and are an important part of APP’s CSR initiatives.