The children of Marunda Village, located on the northern outskirts of Jakarta, where large companies have poured funding into the village to form aquaculture farms so locals can cultivate shrimp and krill in holding pens. A government run school also lies within the tidal zones with children having to wade through water or pile rocks up to form a make-shift pathway when the tide rises, to reach the classroom and partake in morning studies. Marunda Village, Jakarta, Indonesia. 29/01/2009.
Jakarta's decentralization push has been seen as one of the most ambitious overhauls of a developing country in the last decade. From Indonesia's near financial collapse in 1997-98 that threatened to send them into economic turmoil, to today, under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, their economy appears to be thriving. By allocating large parts of the country's annual budget to separate regions for spending on projects they deem necessary, local governments are funding issues that affect their areas, not issues the federal government recognises. Spending by Indonesian regional government's now account for 36 percent of all public budget expenditures (2009), compared with an average of just 14 percent in other developing countries.
The power given to these local governments has it's downsides when it comes to national decisions, but President Yudhoyono remains prepared for negotiation with areas affected by projects that span more than one jurisdiction. For example, the Trans-Java highway, planned to link Jakarta to Java's second largest city Surabaya, is still on hold after 5 years of construction due to local government opposition.
However, under the scheme poor and remote areas receive the most funding per capita, and areas rich in natural resources receive a 'shared extraction revenue' to ensure not all resource proceeds go to the companies who strip rural areas of their industry.
One area that has developed from a community into an industry through the scheme is Marunda Village. Located on the northern outskirts of Jakarta, large companies have poured funding into the village to form aquaculture farms where locals can cultivate shrimp and krill in holding pens, while their families live on-site in company provided accommodation. The village lies amongst the ocean's tidal zones; for the livestock to survive the water needs to be changed daily, which, the natural flow of ocean tide provides.
A government run school also lies amongst the tidal zones, with children having to wade through water or pile rocks as a make-shift pathway when the tide rises, to reach the classroom and partake in morning studies. Through the national government's decentralization push the aqua-cultural industry has thrived and provided income and housing for local villages, however the local school has been overlooked in the recent allocation of funds.
Roostien Illyas, a social worker and founder of the National Commission for Child Protection in Jakarta has been working with villages to improve education for the children, before the parents decide to remove them from school to help with the family's work. Adopting the mindset of empowering the children to be "proud of being village children" striving to avoid the Jakartan dream transit to the central city, she has been an active presence in the islands for the past decade.
As she meets with children from villages in central Java to children in coastal villages such as Marunda, she doesn't see a noticeable difference. "Children are children. They all have the right to learn, the right to have their future." What she does note is the difference in education. By working with each community and approaching the parents first, she listens to their wishes and adapts her project to the local needs for education. If a village is coastal, she sources education materials specific to fishing and ocean based industries. If the village is inland, she sources area specific literature. "The important thing is prevention and education...education doesn’t (always) mean schooling."
Photographer Mark Tipple and Journalist Lauren Fitzgerald accompanied Roostien to the Marunda village elementary school.