FAR removed from the glamorous resorts of Bali, the island’s remote rural areas rarely reap the benefits of tourism, which means that many people in these regions depend only on agriculture to survive.
Manmade and natural disasters often wreak havoc on crops, throwing many farmers into a vicious cycle of poverty that is passed down to their children. Dropout rates in rural schools are very high, and many children have no other option but to work on the land rather than continue their education.
Bali Children Foundation was established to offer educational opportunities to disadvantaged children around the island with an emphasis on remote locations. To do this, they run a number of programmes for youth in various villages that provide community education, scholarships ranging from elementary school through to junior high, senior high and university, and special language and computer courses. They also raise money to improve educational facilities in rural villages.
The majority of the foundation’s work is in remote communities on poor agricultural land amongst the hills in the north and west of Bali. In these communities the average dropout rate for children at grade six is 40 per cent. Working with community leaders and families, they have developed successful strategies to keep the children in school, not just until junior high school, but all the way through.
For more than 12 years now, Bali Children Foundation has worked tirelessly to achieve their goals, and their hard work has paid off. In the 2013-2014 school year they had a zero dropout rate at the elementary level and less than one per cent all the way through to year 12. In addition, they encourage growth and sustainability, so that the children can improve their own economic futures, as well as the futures of their families and the communities. In fact, many of the children they have helped give back to their villages in the form of youth groups and continuing education.
This year 69 students graduated, nine will go on to tertiary studies on BCF scholarships, two on government scholarships and the rest to work. In the work group 90 per cent were employed within a month of graduation. This extraordinary result is supported by the additional English and computer studies the foundation provides in the communities. With over 300 English and computer classes delivered per month, BCF children at graduation have extra skills and are highly sought after by employers.
Since July 2014, the foundation has over 1,000 children in north and west Bali in schools supported by scholarships. They continually need individuals as well as corporate sponsors to enable their work, as sponsorships cost from IDR 2 million for elementary, 3 million for junior high and four million for high school. You can donate money or goods to the foundation, sponsor a child or volunteer if you are an education professional.