Mama Rita’s and Papuan Children’s Hope – The economic sector is important, especially for indigenous Papuan women, because it is not merely a matter of sustainability and fulfilling a better standard of living. However, it is closely related to education and the fulfillment of child nutrition.

Mama Rita never expected more. As an indigenous Papuan woman (OAP) her hope is simple, namely being able to live a healthy life with her family and being able to meet basic needs, especially for her children.

“You can eat, and all the children in the village are healthy, that’s all. They make Sa excited to keep selling to make money. Even though they do not go to school, that’s okay,” he said.

Data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) for Papua Province states that the school enrollment rate (APS) in Mimika has always been above the Papua APS in the period 2017 – 2019. Although for the 16-18 year age range, the APS rate is not as good as the 7-12 age range. years and 13-15 years. The higher the APS rate, the more the number of school-age children receiving education. The low APS in an area is influenced by various factors, including parental education, child health, teacher ratios and family economic factors.

When viewed from the dropout rate, throughout Papua Province, until 2019 there were still students who were unable to enjoy further education, even though the number was small.

“A child only get one school, just up to elementary school. Teachers rarely come to class, children prefer to leave class, so the children are already looking for ferns,” said Maria, an OAP trader at the Timika Central market, from Paripi village.

Johannes said that regarding education, both the government and PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI), which formed a special foundation for distributing CSR funds, had already given support to OAP, especially for the children of the Amungme and Kamoro tribes, as well as 7 other kinship tribes.

Johannes admits he can’t do much. He hopes that all levels of government have the same mentality. Government officials in Mimika should have a servant mentality, not be served.

“Since the problem is that everyone wants to be served, as a result, the community will continue to be like this, and many programs that have been well-conceived by experts are not implemented. Our budget structure has not been able to answer what the community needs,” said Johannes.

It is difficult for OAP to follow the formal education methods that have been implemented by the government. Papuan natives need a culture-based contextual approach.

“They must be returned to nature, for example, they are asked to write the names of the clans, education by practice,” explained Prof. Dr. Cahyo Pamungkas, Ph.D., a researcher in Sociology of Ethnicity and Multiculturalism from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences.

Cahyo explained, OAP has a set of local wisdom, which is now starting to become extinct and must be revived as an entry point to encourage education. This is important, because the OAP have gone through a long history, leaving their land and being evicted. Cahyo assessed that OAP had gotten disorientation.

“They, for example, have the leaves of medicinal plants. We support it by researching what properties these plants contain and how they are used for health. We can’t force it with new drugs that are foreign to them,” said Cahyo.

According to Cahyo, the solution to economic inequality as the main root of all the basic problems of OAP in Mimika is that development programs must be implemented from, by and for indigenous Papuans by involving churches, youth, and women’s organizations. Customary councils and churches are involved in the process of drafting, implementing and evaluating development programs.

Development programs in accordance with the natural conditions, capacities, and cultural values ​​of OAP in Mimika are important to encourage a better OAP economy. Approaches through vocational education and building a service mentality for government officials can encourage the birth of programs that are more friendly to indigenous traditions, so that they are truly beneficial for indigenous Papuans.

If all of them are carried out, it is not impossible, Mama Rita’s hope as a native Papuan woman fulfills basic household needs and sees Papuan children healthy, not just a mere hope. In the future, there will be no more Papuan mothers who exchange motorbikes for fields, and can live equally with others from any ethnic group in Indonesia.

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