Posts

financial inclusion through technologyIn 2018, 1.7 billion adults worldwide, nearly 1 adult out of 3, still live without basic financial transaction accounts.

For the 1.2 billion people who did open financial accounts between 2011 and 2018, the problem is that many do not actively use their account. For example, in India’s initiative of financial inclusion in the early 2010s, nearly 90percent of the 100 million accounts opened are dormant, unused, or closed.

These are some of the daunting statistics that pose key challenges for universal financial inclusion by 2020 set by the World Bank. The goal is clear: getting people to open and maintain financial accounts.

Why Financial Inclusion?

Before discussing the mechanics of reaching universal financial inclusion, particularly for impoverished people in developing countries, why the push for financial inclusion at all?

The World Bank has released several studies that closely link poverty reduction, economic growth, and access to digital or physical financial services. In particular, for developing countries, empowering small farmers, merchants, and villages through financial stability and services can significantly improve their livelihood and economic security.

Additionally, financial inclusion, particularly through less formal means such as through microfinance or rotating savings and credit associations, has a key role in reducing social inequality for rural, poorer populations and women in developing countries.

What Are The Solutions?

Particularly in Southeast Asian countries, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, digital solutions to financial inclusion prove most successful. For example, a financial company in the Philippines, PayMaya, has opened doors to people across the country to allow new, emerging payment methods using QR codes. WeChat pay have partnered with a variety of businesses and mom-and-pop styled stores.

This strategy has worked, in part, due to the prevalence of smartphones in Philippines. The number of mobile phone users in the Philippines reached 74.2 million (out of a population 108.2 million), around 70 percent of the country’s population. PayMaya has also utilized the network of local vendors and merchants in the Philippines, which makes their service convenient and credible to impoverished populations who trust local merchants they have been going to for years.

Success in Indonesia

Indonesia is another success story of digital financial inclusion. For example, by making their G2P programs digital, welfare recipients receive payments directly to their digital accounts, which demonstrates the power that technology can have in reducing transaction costs and increasing convenience for those in need. Indonesia also has the regulatory framework to house a thriving banking industry and network of mobile operators. Indonesia has identified that 119 million adults are still excluded from financial services, but that, 100 million out of the 119 are smartphone users. So, the continued path forward for financial inclusion in Indonesia will be increased digitization of financial services.

What Is The Future of Financial Inclusion?

The examples of Indonesia and the Philippines shed light on broader discussions about financial inclusion from governmental organizations like the World Bank and companies like the International Finance Corporation. The success of Indonesia’s and the Philippines’ financial inclusion depends on lowering regulatory barriers, making financial options attractive and convenient, especially to poorer populations, and establishing strong social networks throughout the country.

Significant Barriers

These are exactly the barriers to reaching the last 1.7 billion excluded people, who are predominantly in developing countries. These populations often do not have enough money to open a bank account, lack the financial literacy to maintain a bank account, or simply do not trust brick and mortar institutions that do not have particular incentives to penetrate rural markets. Less formal means, such as microfinance or rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs), are more attractive because these systems pool money between trusted individuals, often friends or family, and allow people to save and borrow smaller amounts of funds that would not be enough to open a bank account.

World Bank Efforts

The World Bank has targeted several categories to develop over the coming years, such as creating a regulatory environment to enable access to transaction accounts, drive government-based solutions and programs for transaction accounts, focus on the disadvantaged, such as rural families and women, and digitize payments. The World Bank has identified 25 priority countries where nearly 70 percent of all financially excluded people live worldwide and are on track to reach 1 billion opened accounts by 2020.

From a corporate standpoint, PayMaya shows that financial inclusion offers a new, emerging market for financial and fintech companies, who have an economic incentive and profit motive for tapping into developing countries and helping to improve access to financial services. Digital finance has the potential to reach over 1.6 billion new retail customers in developing countries, with potential profits from the aggregate market estimated to be an astounding $4.2 trillion.

With both political will and economic incentive, the way forward seems clear: invest in digital solutions that partner with local networks and that work to tailor to the preferences of poorer populations, who may have low financial literacy and may mistrust large, corporate institutions.

– Luke Kwong
Photo: Flickr

Fight Poverty with TechnologyIn the past two decades, Télecoms Sans Frontières (TSF), an international NGO, has provided more than 20 million marginalized people with means of communication which not only saves lives but also helps to make strides in poverty reduction. Headquartered in Pau, France, Télecoms Sans Frontièrs has assisted disadvantaged groups such as refugees and migrants in more than 70 countries. This is done through its use of emergency-response technologies.

For example, when a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit numerous Indonesian islands on Sep. 28, 2018, Télecoms Sans Frontièrs quickly began to distribute aid. The NGO set up internet connections with local providers to ensure efficient humanitarian aid coordination in larger cities. Following this, the team visited isolated, comparatively poorer villages in Indonesia that lacked internet access to provide them with mobile WiFi. This is only one of more than 140 crises that Télecoms Sans Frontièrs has responded to since its founding in 1998.

TSF is currently undertaking eight humanitarian missions across seven countries. All missions involve means of technology access and adaptation. Keep reading to learn more about the organization’s mission to fight poverty with technology.

Télecoms Sans Frontièrs: 8 Global Missions To Fight Poverty With Technology

  1. The Information Diffusion System in Mexico aims to provide migrants and refugees with important information regarding their location. This is made possible through a network of micro-computers in eight centers across the nation. Screens at each center present news alerts and legal information such as asylum procedures. According to one Salvadoran migrant, “The screen helped me to ask for refuge, to know my rights as a migrant and to know the location of the consulate of El Salvador.”
  2. Technological management for Guatemala’s food aid program plays a critical role, especially because TSF combats the effects of brutal droughts in the Dry Corridor region. TSF partnered with the government and four other NGOs to efficiently run the “Operation Opportunity” food aid program, which financially supports the extremely impoverished. Among other technological roles, TSF determines the necessary equipment for fields and configures administrative technology.
  3. Emergency call centers for Venezuelan refugees in Brazil offer the ability to communicate with their relatives through an IP telephone solution. Moreover, the centers have proven essential for the refugees to carry out asylum applications, and for aid distributions. Efforts that help migrants obtain legal standing are key to escaping poverty.
  4. Internet connectivity for Middle Eastern and North African migrants and refugees in Bihać, Bosnia, not only allows them to contact their families but also benefits the humanitarian actors aiming to mitigate the issue. Organizations such as the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and UNHCR are few and are in desperate need of financial and human assistance. By providing internet connectivity that covers a total of 20,000 square-meters, humanitarian efficiency and coordination are vastly improved as Bosnia faces growing refugee populations.
  5. The community telecenter in Burkina Faso, in partnership with the Zoramb Naagtaaba Association, works to bridge the digital divide between the capital Ouagadougou and the rural region of Guiè. While the Internet proved to be a ground-breaking tool in industrializing Burkina Faso from 1997 onwards, Guiè has remained relatively isolated from technological and economic progress. Until late 2010, inhabitants of Guiè needed to commute up to 12 hours just to access the Internet. The region’s community telecentre not only provides internet connection and modern computer equipment but even offers computer training tailored for many occupations, such as for students and farmers. Education efforts like these are key to enabling social mobility and reducing poverty.
  6. A cybercafé established in Miarinarivo, Madagascar provides locals with the ability to carry out personal work with internet access. Additionally, the café provides its users with technological equipment such as computers and printers. Considering how the café’s users are predominantly adolescents, in partnership with the NGO IT Cup, these students are given introductory computer lessons essential to escaping poverty.
  7. The mLearning project for Syrian children has provided displaced and refugee children in war-stricken areas with educational resources all through the use of digital technologies. With tablets offering a range of tools such as courses, interactive documents, and quizzes, TSF’s digital program is a clear example of how the NGO aims to fight poverty with technology. Providing the younger generations of vulnerable regions with education is a central milestone towards escaping poverty.
  8. Connectivity between Syrian medical centers allows for coordination in TSF’s mission for hospitals to efficiently aid the country’s wounded. Since 2012, TSF has connected 53 hospitals, pharmacies and clinics by creating broadband connections and establishing over 20 satellite lines. In the last seven years, this has equated to the transferring of 35.9 TB of medical data along with the treatment of 3.2 million patients across these medical centers.

There’s no doubt that the critical role of technology in the 21st century is continuing to grow. Rather than feeling threatened by this change to tradition, TSF embraces any challenge to orthodoxy as an opportunity. For the past three decades, TSF has consistently adapted to and used these changing conditions to its advantage. In fields ranging from global health to economics, Télécoms Sans Frontières continues to fight poverty with technology and ultimately aims to secure human rights internationally.

– Breana Stanski
Photo: Flickr

10 facts about plastic waste in southeast asia
The Philippines recently made headlines when they sent nearly 70 cargoes of imported refuse from Canada. But the Philippines is not alone in their rejection of plastic waste from the developed world. Countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand have followed in China’s footsteps to establish a total ban on plastic imports. What is the broader story behind these import bans? What will Canada do with their 70 cargoes of waste? To answer these questions, here are 10 facts about plastic waste in Southeast Asia.

10 Facts About Plastic Waste in Southeast Asia

  1. Worldwide Production: Worldwide production of plastics reached 381 million tons of plastics in 2015, nearly doubling from 213 million tons of plastics in 2000. The packaging industry accounts for nearly 141 million tons of plastic production.
  2. Low Recycling Rates: Only 9% of all plastic is recycled, while 79% heads straight to landfills. Another 12% is incinerated. This means that of the estimated 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic existing in the natural world or in landfills worldwide, only 500 million tons are recycled.
  3. Waste per Capita: China ranks the highest in overall plastic waste disposal, generating an average of around 59.08 million tons of plastic per year. Other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines dispose between 2.5 and 5 million tons of plastic. Comparably, the United States produces an astounding 37.83 million tons of plastic waste, making it the country with the highest political waste per capita ratio. This fact, among these 10 facts about plastic waste in Southeast Asia, highlights that waste management cannot be considered a purely regional issue. It is a global issue.
  4. Plastic Management: Countries in Southeast Asia, Africa, and other low-income countries have the highest shares of plastic waste that is deemed inadequately mismanaged. Just five countries–China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam–produce half of all plastic waste in the world’s oceans.
  5. Growing Alarm: The growing amount of plastic is alarming for many reasons. According to a WasteAid report, nearly 9 million people die each year from diseases related to waste pollutants. There is also a growing concern that microplastics found in the tissues of fish could be dangerous to human health. Additionally, tons of plastic are diverted to dumpsites, which could contribute to 8-10% of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
  6. Huge Imports: While Southeast Asian countries are culpable for mismanaged plastic waste and contamination of the worlds’ oceans, they also import more plastic waste than any other region in the world. Before its ban on plastic, China imported 6.4 million tons of plastic waste in 2017. In the last quarter of 2018, the UK alone exported nearly 18,000 tons of plastic waste to Malaysia.
  7. The US Plays a Key Role: Plastic waste and pollution particularly in Southeast Asia is a problem of poverty and represents a broader dynamic between the developed and developing world. In 2018, the United States sent an equivalent of 68,000 shipping containers of plastic to developing countries who already mismanaged 70% of plastic waste. Workers in places like Vietnam sort contaminated, hazardous plastic waste from the U.S. in poor working conditions for meager pay.
  8. Impact of a Total Ban: With the recent rollbacks on plastic imports to the poorly regulated shores of Southeast Asia, researchers believe China’s ban alone displaced 120 million tons of plastic in 2017. Thailand has followed suit, stating that it will enforce a total ban on plastics by 2021. The introduction of these bans ironically has Australia, Canada, and European countries, facing growing piles of low-quality plastic scraps, a problem they can no longer export away.
  9. World Bank Initiatives: The World Bank has confronted poverty and lack of infrastructure as one of the main ways to address the colossal problem of plastic waste and its relationship to poverty and poor regulations in developing countries. The World Bank has committed $4.7 billion to more than 340 solid waste management programs to improve waste disposal methods in predominantly developing countries. They particularly seek to bolster waste disposal infrastructure, legal regulations, and health and safety, among others.
  10. A Shifting Paradigm: In the developed world, import bans have forced countries like the U.S. to renew investments in recycling infrastructure and public education on issues of plastic waste. Some states have imposed strict regulations on plastic production and consumption, and with more public awareness and subsequent political pressure, more states can follow. On a corporate level, companies like Intel, Eaton, and Texas Instruments recycle more than 85% of their waste, hopefully, with more to follow.

In developed countries, one of the main ways to mitigate this issue is to limit the consumption of plastic products and review the laws that have allowed the harmful trade of plastic waste to places like the Philippines. In developing countries, banning contaminated plastic waste the first step in ensuring that every country takes responsibility for their own waste. These 10 facts about plastic waste in Southeast Asia highlight the numerous components in this growing crisis.

Luke Kwong
Photo: Flickr

earthquake
On September 28, 2018, the poverty-riddled country of Indonesia experienced a deadly natural disaster. A 7.5 earthquake followed by a tsunami that produced waves of up to 6 meters tall hit the city of Palu killing hundreds. As search efforts to find survivors continued, many news outlets have called into question the effectiveness of Indonesia’s early disaster warning system.

The Tsunami in Indonesia

BBC News reported that a system of 21 buoys used to trigger the warning system based off of the data that they receive was inactive during the time of the tsunami. Gifted to Indonesia by a few generous countries after the last natural disaster, the buoys had either been vandalized or stolen. With a strict budget in place, Indonesia hasn’t been able to afford the cost of replacing the buoys or maintaining the remaining system they currently have in place. As a result of the unreliable warnings in regards to the size of the waves, many have perished.

When a natural disaster hits a country that already has problems with its infrastructure due to poverty, like Indonesia, it often causes far more deaths and inflicts a lot more damage. BBC News compared similar natural disasters in three countries and found that impoverished areas are more susceptible to the effects of natural disasters.

The Hurricanes in Puerto Rico

In 2017 Puerto Rico suffered back to back hurricanes that left the country with even fewer resources than it had before. With 40 percent of its population living below the poverty line, the ailing country was already crippled by debt, experiencing a lack of electricity and facing school shutdowns. Given the state of Puerto Rico’s poverty crisis prior to the disaster, the country was ill-prepared for the effect the hurricane would have on its crumbling infrastructure.

Puerto Rico’s disaster relief efforts have been both challenging and expensive given its previous state of affairs. The U.S. has offered $2 billion to fix Puerto Rico’s electric grid, but in order to fix the damage done before and after the hurricane, it would take $17 billion. Further financial resources would have to be given to restore Puerto Rico’s infrastructure and help it to withstand natural disaster threats in the future.

The Earthquake in Haiti

Before the 7.0 magnitude earthquake disrupted Haiti back in 2010, 72.1 percent of the Haitian population was living on $2 a day in cities with poorly constructed cramped housing. Dwindling funds in Haiti were met with cost-cutting measures that led to faulty building codes. The soil-based land on which Port au Prince was built was at the epicenter of the earthquake, which also contributed to the city’s imminent collapse. With a stronger magnitude earthquake than Haiti, China lost 87.5 thousand people while Haiti lost 230 thousand citizens.

The earthquake in Haiti made quick work of the poverty-stricken area of Port au Prince. Haiti received $13.5 billion in aid relief after the earthquake, but with the money, came the unforeseen side effect of disease. After stationing soldiers on the ground to provide relief after the earthquake, toxic waste was spilled into a Haitian river causing a severe outbreak of Cholera which has killed an additional 9,000 people over the last four years. Additional relief funds will need to be provided to treat the epidemic.

When natural disasters strike areas that have been weakened by poverty, it leads to more damage, more lives lost and far more money needed to fix the situation. In many of these instances, measures could have been taken to prevent mass casualties, especially in areas where natural disasters pose a significant threat. Investing in long-term infrastructure solutions and natural disaster prevention instead of just throwing funds at a problem for an immediate fix in poverty prone areas will save more lives.

Catherine Wilson
Photo: Flickr

Development Projects in Indonesia
Indonesia, a country known for its large economy and diverse population, is home to 243 million people. Previously, the country dealt with an autocratic leader and has had many issues with corruption. However, the country’s newest president, Joko Widodo, wants to make the country more democratic. With 
poverty affecting 11 percent of the population and many people living in “near poverty”, several development projects in Indonesia have been working toward solutions.

Here are five development projects in Indonesia that are addressing different issues in order to make the country better for its citizens.

The National Program for Community Empowerment (PNPM Mandiri)

PNPM Mandiri works within the poorest communities in Indonesia to help develop villages. By engaging in these projects, community members have access to employment and help their community’s infrastructure. It is a flagship community organization for the government. The program also teaches other how to plan communities and apply the practices elsewhere in Indonesia. The program is now operational in 70,000 communities throughout 33 provinces.

Asian Development Bank’s Microfinance Program

As a way to invest in communities, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) started a microfinance program to help small businesses in North Sumatra. The program was originally intended to help businesses after the 2004 earthquake and tsunami. Instead of having a bank, representatives visit communities and give presentations where business owners can get loans. This enables businesses to expand and allows people to get loans that they thought they could not have gotten before. The microfinance program provides “finance that changes lives.”

Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) in Jakarta

The MRT is an infrastructure development project aimed to relieve traffic congestion. It is being built by the Jakarta government and it will be completed in 2027 with a construction cost of over $1 billion. This project is going to impact almost 500,000 people daily so they can travel efficiently to their jobs and improve the economy.

IFAD in Indonesia

Similar to the ADB microfinance program, IFAD invests in the rural sector. IFAD focuses on investing in remote and vulnerable areas. It has invested over $400 million into Indonesia since 1980 and helps establish public-private partnerships. It places an emphasis on smallholders in these communities.

The Legal Empowerment and Assistance for the Disadvantaged (LEAD) Project

This program works to ensure that the most marginalized in Indonesia are given the proper rights and treatment. The LEAD Project aims to spread awareness of legal rights regarding government services and legal claims. As a result, policies have been strengthened and government officials have been more responsive to marginalized communities claiming rights and bringing up legal issues.

Indonesia has issues that span the rural and urban areas as well as in the spheres of legal and human rights. These 5 development projects in Indonesia will benefit the people as the country continues to progress.

– Emilia Beuger

Photo: Flickr

women's empowerment in IndonesiaLocated in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, with an estimated population of 261.1 million, has experienced rapid growth over the last 30 years, with a growth of GDP per capita from less than $1,000 in 1990 to approximately $2,000 in 2010.

However, Indonesian women remained only moderately engaged in the labor market. Economic independence is a major factor in women’s empowerment in Indonesia. According to records, the female labor force participation is only about 51 percent in 2016, with the female-male labor force ratio remaining at 0.6.

Although multiple local organizations have tried to combat poverty and raise the standards of women’s lives, because of the ingrained cultural violence and neglect of these issues by the government, women’s empowerment in Indonesia remains a humanitarian crisis.

As the fourth largest telecommunication country in the world, Indonesia attracted Adrianna Tan’s attention, inspiring her to create a mobile phone app to empower women in an overlooked demographic. Her app Wobe is designed to help low-income Indonesians, particularly women, start their own business.

In Indonesia, transactions are mostly cash-based and buying and selling prepaid mobile phone credit is common, but with so many middlemen raising prices, it is challenging to make a profit.

The Wobe app allows anyone with an Android phone to buy directly from the three major Indonesian carriers. The Wobe users can then use the same technology to start their own digital business specializing in selling phone airtime, electricity, electronic train tickets and water vouchers.

“Our success comes in the form of the number of jobs we are able to create for women and other underprivileged folks in our fold,” said Tan.

Women’s empowerment in Indonesia has improved because of the advancement of technology. With the help of technology, women can become entrepreneurs themselves, change their current situation of financial exclusion and have a better life.

– Jingting Han

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Indonesia

At the recent United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, also known as Habitat III, the Indonesian Minister of Housing and Public Works detailed his plans and hopes for eradicating poverty in Indonesia by 2045.

Minister Hadimulyono released a statement describing the Indonesian National Urban Policy and Strategy for 2045. He indicated that the eradication of poverty is inherently linked to sustainable urbanization and resistance to natural disasters. Hadimulyono also cited the positive impact that meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals would have on the Indonesian poverty rate – particularly those goals relating to education, healthcare, energy and sanitation.

Poverty in Indonesia has been dropping since 1999, and is at an all time low of 10.9 percent. The current plan for the reduction of poverty has been very successful already, but Minister Hadimulyono emphasizes that developing sustainable and smart cities will help to eradicate poverty by 2045. He also indicates that it is critical to “better integrate urban and territorial planning development,” and it follows that investing in smarter development is worthwhile.

There is one major obstacle facing Indonesia’s goal, and that is funding for social enterprises. While Indonesia has much foreign investment, social enterprises receive only a minuscule amount of the funding that technology and Internet companies do. Social enterprises received $43 million U.S. in 2016 – only 20 percent of the investments that are made in technology companies.

Indonesia has seen the kind of economic growth necessary to achieve these goals, but not enough investment goes toward social enterprises. According to the United Nations Development Programme, between $3 trillion and 4.5 $trillion U.S. is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the developing world. These goals deal with issues like gender equality and healthcare, both of which would also contribute to reducing poverty rates in the country.

Ultimately, Indonesia has come a long way regarding its poverty rates, and its goals for the future are important for more than just the developing world. In many ways, Indonesia’s efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and eradicate poverty – even as a developing country – are superior to the efforts of some wealthier nations. Even with the need for increased funding, the Indonesian government has hopes of meeting their goals for poverty reduction and based on their efforts so far it does seem plausible.

Liyanga De Silva

Photo: Flickr

Why is Indonesia PoorIndonesia is the largest country in Southeast Asia, both in terms of population and economy. In the past decade, Indonesia’s economy has steadily grown, with overall poverty falling by 6 percent from 2007-2014. Despite this, however, Indonesia still has 105 million people living just above the national poverty line.

So, with a steady economic growth and a labour force of 126 million people in 2016, why is Indonesia poor?

Firstly, in terms of geography, Indonesia is vulnerable to a wide variety of natural disasters, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis. In 2004, a deadly magnitude 9.1 earthquake struck in the Indian Ocean near Indonesia, claiming 230,000 lives and displacing tens of thousands more. Communities such as Banda Aceh also suffered massive, long-term environmental and infrastructural damage, leading to a widespread emergency situation in the region. In asking the question “why is Indonesia poor?”, events like this may serve as one of the most directly contributing factors.

Additionally, when one asks “why is Indonesia poor?”, one must consider demographic shifts. Indonesia currently faces a population of nearly 50 million living without electricity, equal to approximately 20 percent of the national population. While 94 percent of the urban population has access to electricity, only 66 percent of rural populations do.

Furthermore, the employment growth has fallen behind the population growth rate, leaving many young, able-bodied workers without jobs. With approximately 1.7 million people entering the labor force each year, Indonesia’s job market must continue growing in order to meet this demand.

Finally, in Indonesia today, 33 million people lack access to safe water, and 100 million people lack access to improved sanitation. This allows for an easier dispersion of diseases such as cholera in the nation, as a result of unclean water sources.

Despite these facts regarding the recent and current trends in Indonesia’s poverty outlook, there is a high amount of optimism for the future. The country’s president, Joko Widodo, has announced a firm commitment to improving national infrastructure, and has approved $353 billion to fund infrastructure development until 2019. This plan includes the Kalimantan region, which has historically been overlooked in Indonesia’s development strategies.

Furthermore, the United Nations, World Bank, OECD, and International Monetary Fund have all forecast positive GDP growth rates in Indonesia since approximately 2014, likely as a direct result of rising fuel and mineral prices around the globe. The proper utilization of this positive forecast and optimistic outlook by the Widodo presidency, through the continued dedication to infrastructure improvement, can allow for Indonesia’s people to flourish for years to come.

Bradley Tait

Photo: Flickr

Indonesian Education System
In Indonesia, education is a privilege to which not all children have access. Based on a have-and-have-not system, the Indonesian education system is severely underfunded for those without financial security.

Children from financially stable families have a variety of schools to choose from, including both public and private. However, children from poorer families have few to no affordable options for education. Their available options only include public primary schools.

Because quality education is offered to such a small sector of the population, the knowledge gap is widening between the wealthy and the poor. Unfortunately, a large number of these uneducated Indonesians are students with disabilities.

Disabled students have an especially difficult time accessing education because the Indonesian government provides them two options for education: enrollment at special-needs schools, or schools with inclusive programs that are willing to accept students with disabilities. Both of these options are unlikely to provide a quality education to disabled students.

Special-needs schools do not teach curriculums that cater to students with various disabilities, so students with physical disabilities are taught the same curriculum as students with learning disabilities, even though they are capable of learning at the same pace as their able-bodied peers.

Similarly, not all schools are accepting of students with disabilities. Most of them lack the physical facilities necessary for these students, and many teachers have little to no experience working with disabled children.

Thus, it is important that decision-makers within the education system increase awareness in order to accept students with disabilities currently being denied education by the majority of institutions throughout Indonesia.

Indonesians with disabilities who do not receive proper education experience unique problems throughout the entirety of their lives. According to a recent study at the University of Indonesia, nearly 70 percent of disabled children do not receive an education and the ones who do only have a 66.8 percent chance of finishing primary school.

This is reflected later in life as only 64.9 percent of people with disabilities have a chance of getting a job. The gap between people who can afford to receive a quality education and people with disabilities continues throughout these people’s lives as the educated obtain successful, well-paying jobs and people with disabilities do not.

Help for these people begins with raising awareness and normalizing students with disabilities in a typical Indonesian classroom setting. Inclusive education is making its way through the Indonesian education system as more and more schools are accepting and tolerant of these students.
By improving the availability of education to students with education, it becomes possible to obtain jobs later in life, regardless of disability status.

However, inclusive education is accessible to only a small portion of the disabled community, so it is important that lawmakers and teachers alike learn about various disabilities and provide effective education for each individual.

Because disabled students rarely interact with peers without disabilities in the classroom, the two groups become separated and remain so throughout their lives, including in the workplace. Many jobs are unavailable to people with disabilities because employers lack knowledge of disabilities and are unwilling to hire disabled individuals.

By allowing students with and without disabilities equal opportunities in the Indonesian education system, the workplace becomes much more abundant in job opportunities for Indonesians with disabilities. This is because people become more aware of disabilities and more accepting of them in the workforce.

Education conditions for Indonesians with disabilities continue to improve, but the opportunities remain slim. With significant effort, it is likely that disabled individuals will one day have access to the Indonesian education system leading to greater opportunities in the workplace.

Kassidy Tarala
Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Indonesia
Indonesia is considered a hotspot for various diseases, due to factors such as tropical climate, biodiversity and frequent interaction between humans and animals. The CIA World Factbook states that some of the most common diseases in Indonesia, with a “very high” degree of risk, are as follows:

Dengue fever
Dengue is a vector-borne disease transmitted through the bite of infected female mosquitoes, which can spread more quickly in an environment that lacks reliable sanitation or produces garbage regularly. A recent study reported in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases found that more than half of all children in Indonesia’s urban areas were infected with dengue by the age of five, and over 80 percent of them have been infected with the dengue virus at least once by age 10. Typically, the outbreak of the disease surges every three to four years, with the most recent surge having occurred at the beginning of 2016.

The Indonesian Ministry of Health reported that 71,668 cases of dengue fever were recorded in 2014, with 641 of these cases ending in death. Although the number of cases on the national level seems to be on the decline, the number has been increasing in several areas, including North Sumatra, Riau, West Kalimantan, North Kalimantan, North Sulawesi, Bali and Jakarta.

Malaria
Another one of the most common diseases in Indonesia is malaria. While Jakarta, Surabaya, Bali and other large cities are relatively free from the risk of malaria, other areas in the country are still vulnerable to the disease. According to the data from the Ministry of Health, malaria is still rampant in the provinces of Papua, East Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, North Maluku and West Papua. An Indonesian health official from the Maluku province, whose local health department has been carrying out efforts to eradicate the disease, stated that eliminating the disease would require maintaining a healthy environment, killing mosquito larva through fogging, regular blood tests and the use of mosquito nets.

Bacterial diarrhea
Diarrhea was once a leading cause of death for children under the age of five in Indonesia, accounting for almost 25 percent of child mortality. Although efforts to combat mortality from the disease have decreased the death rates to approximately 2.5 per 1,000, the incidence of bacteria has remained constant at 25 to 30 million per year in children under the age of five. The fact that the number of outbreaks has not changed much implies the need for more innovative solutions to deal with the disease.

These three are among the most common diseases in Indonesia. Recently, the Indonesian government has been carrying out various policies to achieve the goal of attaining universal water and sanitation access by 2019, which, if successful, could help the country make significant progress in fighting these diseases.

 – Minh Joo Yi

Photo: Flickr