Refugees set up school in West Java to educate their own children

Thousands of people live in refugee camps in Cisarua, a mountain town south of Jakarta, waiting to move to other countries. Adults cannot work or children cannot go to school. Some volunteers have set up four classes to teach math, English and computer science to refugee children.


Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In order to educate their children and prepare their future, some refugees in Indonesia waiting for a third country have set up their own school in which they teach.

The ‘Learning Nest’ was created just over a year ago in Cisarua, a mountainous town near Bogor (West Java), where refugees are waiting for their fate to be decided.

Faced with enforced inactivity, men and women from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq and Sri Lanka opted for a unique educational enterprise.

Currently, four classes are offered to 58 students (aged 6 to 18 years) who use books from a nearby library. During their lunch break, they can play football (soccer) at a field built by their parents.

About 20 volunteers, refugees themselves, teach math, English and computer science.

After lunch the children go home and are replaced by parents who want to learn English (a priority for those who want to go to countries like Canada, New Zealand, and United States).

In Indonesia, some 14,000 people are registered at the Office of the United Nations for Refugees (UNHCR), including 2,700 schoolchildren. Most are in Cisarua, just south of Jakarta, left in limbo without much to do except wait.

Although in theory refugee children could attend Indonesian schools, almost no one has the necessary language skills. At the same time, limited space, red tape and transportation costs are other obstacles refugee children face.

What is more, after spending most of their life on the run from war and persecution, some kids are too old for primary schooling.

Other migrant groups have set up schools around Cisarua, but the proportion of children not in school is still very high.

Paul Dillon, project manager for the International Organisation for Migrants (IOM), praised the refugees’ initiative, hoping that it could help thousands of other children in need.

Yesterday, on World Refugee Day, the UNHCR reported that the number of asylum seekers and internally displaced people in the world topped 65.3 million, the highest ever recorded.

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