RAJA AMPAT IS BEAUTIFUL, BUT EDUCATION THERE IS FAR FROM ENOUGH

Raja Ampat in West Papua is considered a fragment of the world’s paradise so that it attracts tens of thousands of tourists to explore its underwater beauty every year.

But in the midst of the global uproar of tourism, some of the children of Raja Ampat struggle to wade through the sea and live a limited life for education.

“I am proud to be born as a Papuan child, but our lives are difficult, learning half-dead using a lamp, far from parents and having to live in lodgings.”

The expression was expressed by Felix Togarman Burdam, a class IX student at SMP Negeri 27, Kampung Samate, Salawati Utara District. Felix is one of 15 children from Soop Island who are now forced to migrate to Samate to continue their education.

In Soop there are only elementary school facilities. The closest junior high school that Felix and his age can reach is in Samate, about 90 minutes away by sea using a 15 pk engine boat that is not equipped with a safety float. Crossing the islands in Raja Ampat by boat is not a cheap choice for most locals. In islands such as Raja Ampat, navigating the sea is the only way to move.

But the bad economy did not allow Felix and his friends to commute from Soop to school in Samate on a motorized boat every day. Their parents cannot afford to buy kerosene fuel every day.

Moreover, said Felix, the Soop children prefer to go to Samate instead of going to Sorong because there are no tuition fees. Avoiding expenditure is a rational choice for those who come from lower-class economic families.

“We are staying in a lodging, so there is no need to pay for going to school, just walking,” said Felix.