We are shocked to learn the news surfaced in early May 2016 about Yuyun, a 14-year-old girl who was brutally gang raped to death by 14 young men on her way home from school in Bengkulu.
Some said poverty played a role in Yuyun’s horrified fate. The National Statistics Agency (Biro Pusat Statistik – BPS) reported Bengkulu as the poorest province in Sumatra island in 2015 at 17%, below national average at 11%. Yuyun’s perpetrators are mostly her age with only two believed to be older than her. They are school dropouts and unemployed.
The village of Bayat, Klaten, where Titian grants scholarships, may lies hundreds of miles away from Bengkulu, but BPS reported the poverty rate of Klaten Regency was as high as 16% for 2012. Poverty, as also its twin-nemesis – low education, are part of an endless topic debate about whether poverty is the catalyst or byproduct of low education.
Our high school scholarship (Grade 10 to 12) doesn’t only give financial relief, but beneficiaries are required to be actively involved in our ‘life-skills’ activities – counselling, capacity building, reporting through diary, volunteering, entrepreneurship and university exam tutorial.
Through our experience, we see that this much-needed work is more about reconstructing and rebuilding of one’s self-esteem, hence through these life-skills they would render more impact and create sustainability. These extra ‘chores’ apparently pose more challenges for the teenage boys than the girls.
The girls account for 75% of our scholarship beneficiaries. Titian scholarship doesn’t purposely carry any ‘feminism’ agenda nor does it advocate a particularly ‘women-empowerment’ programme, but we are equally delighted to see how many of these young girls in Bayat are hungry to continue their studies as education for daughters/girls in remote Indonesia, as also in many patriarchal cultures in the world, is of the very lowest priority – often coming after the son or even a motorcycle!
The proof is that nearly 60% of these girl beneficiaries continue their education to tertiary level. It is only through education that girls and women can become aware and elevate their stand in their respective families, communities and to larger extent – society.
The World Bank stated that education can transform and empower girls and women to create sustainable development for society as a whole. To sum up “Educate a Woman, Build a Nation.” It is that honorable.
(To find out more on how your sponsorship can change a student’s life, please watch our scholarship testimonies on our YouTube channel)