Ten elementary school students from Papua’s Amungme and Kamoro tribes with low achievements in math and science have been selected to study at the Surya Institute in Tangerang, Banten.

Head of the education office’s youth and child focus division of the Amungme and Kamoro Community Development Institute (LPMAK), Abraham Timang, said the 10 were selected out of 40 students from a number of schools in Mimika regency, whose population is dominated by the two tribes. “This is a special program that we conduct in cooperation with the Surya Institute in a bid to help improve the quality of education for children from Amungme and Kamoro tribes.

At least two former Surya students — Septinus George Saa and Anike Nelce Bowaire — have gone onto great academic success. Septinus won a gold medal at the 12th annual physics contest the First step to a Nobel Prize in Physics competition in Warsaw in 2004 and Anike received similar recognition a year later.

Abraham said the one-year program has only been conducted since this year and is exclusively given to the two tribes as the holder of the ulayat (collective territorial) rights at mining firm PT Freeport Indonesia. The program is eligible for second to fourth graders who had difficulties with the two school subjects.

The selected students, who left to join the program on Sunday, were between eight and 10 years of age; could actively read and write in Indonesian; knew the numbers of 1 to 10; and are among the most under-performing students in the regency. “All the selected students have met with the criteria provided by the Surya Institute,” Abraham said. He also said that both parents and teachers of the selected students welcome the program since many children at the regency faced problems in learning the two subjects and some even had to drop out of school. Abraham said the program would help improve the quality of education in Mimika where education facilities and good science teachers were limited.He hoped that after completing the program, the 10 students would be able to compete with students from other parts of Indonesia.

“This is a new history in the education of our children for the Amungme and Kamoro tribes,” said Anthonius Alomang of Amungme. He fully supported the program and hoped it would continue to create quality human resources and leaders for the tribes in the future.
Similar support was also raised by Maria Rosmini, a teacher at the state elementary school SD Inpres Nawaripi Baru.  she said that their skills are actually similar to students from other regions, except they lack support from parents who have yet to understand their children’s educational needs.
PT 13 Peb 2010