Indonesian School Using Recyclable Waste to Pay for School Fees

From milk cartons... to plastic mineral water bottles...

INDONESIA

Jumat, 31 Okt 2014 17:19 WIB

Author

Indra Nasution KBR

Indonesian School Using Recyclable Waste to Pay for School Fees

Indonesia, School, Recycle, Waste, Indra Nasution KBR

A pre-school in Depok, on the outskirts of the Indonesia capital, is using recyclable waste to pay for school fees.

Indra Nasution visited the school to find out more.

5-year-old Irfan is playing near her mother, Yulianah, who is busy sorting out recyclable trash at home.

From milk cartons... to plastic mineral water bottles...

Housewife Yulianah, will use the waste to pay for her child’s school fees.

“I just collect them. Milk cartons or plastic bottles like this. I’ll bring them to school when it’s time to pay the tuition fees.”

Irfan is now studying at a private pre-school in Depok, West Java.

Irfan’s mother Yulianah, was relieved when the school announced last year that students from poor families could pay their school fees using recyclable waste.

Irfan’s father is a temporary employee at a government school, while her mother earns money by cleaning other people’s clothes.

“My husband doesn’t get paid every month. Sometimes only once every three months. If I had to wait that long, we would be in trouble.”

At the start of the school day, 40 children get ready for their lessons…

Today the students are learning using plastic bottles and caps collected by their parents, says teacher Kiki.

“We use the caps to create a game, to create the alphabet or numbers, to create flowers, cars, we can use the caps and play around.”

It’s time now for the children to go home. But another task awaits the teachers.. to select and clean all the recyclable waste collected today... before selling them to trash collectors for recycling.

“We separate the trash… between plastic and milk cartons...”

It was Mahmudah Cahyawati’s idea to let poor families pay for school fees using recyclable waste collected from home.

She’s the owner of the school. She says she wants to make sure that early childhood education is affordable for everyone.

“We have to find ways for children to go to school, so that children from poor families can have an education like other kids, without having to pay hefty school fees. We use trash because everyone produces waste, especially recyclable waste, which is valuable compared to other types of waste. Organic waste is also useful but we have to treat it first. So here in this school, everyone pays as much as they can using recyclable waste.”

One of the teachers, Ani, says they receive up to 4 kilograms of recyclable waste every day from the parents.

“It’s very easy to collect inorganic trash because everyone produces inorganic waste every day. And we sometimes ask other students to pay as much as they can, and we support the rest of the school with money from selling the trash.”

Mahmudah’s husband, Irianto, supports the school’s decision.

“School doesn’t need to be super expensive. What’s more important is the quality of education. The quality of a school is not determined by the school fees, but depends on the teachers’ creativity.”

Mahmudah hopes to inspire other schools to do the same.

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