School in Jayawijaya alleged of receiving government funds despite not operating for 5 years

The Papuan media outlet Suara Papua has revealed another example of alleged misappropriation of education funds. The Taela Primary School in the Tealarek District of Jayawijaya Regency (see photo, source: Suara Papua), Papua Province, has not been operational since 2016. According to local observers, the school continues to receive government education funds. Multiple attempts to report the alleged misappropriation to the education department in Jayawijaya have failed.

According to official data, the Taela Primary school is supposed to provide education to approximately 300 pupils. The six teachers at Taela school have reportedly subscribed students for the national exam, although most can not read or write because classes have not taken place for five years. However, the school keeps on receiving education funds (Bantuan Operasional Sekolah, BOS). Witnesses saw that the principal occasionally handed over the money to the pupils for maintaining the school. They also claim that the teachers registered the children for the national exams.

Erius Mosip, an intellectual originating from the Taelarek District said that teachers often allow students to pass the exams. Most of them are not able to count, read and write properly. As a result, students from remote highland communities are often not accepted in higher education levels because they lack the fundamental education skills such as reading, writing and basic mathematics.

In 2019, local community members in vain tried to report the grievances to the regent and education department in Jayawijaya. They also organised a peaceful demonstration in front of the regent’s office in the town of Wamena, to bring awareness to the education situation in Taelarek. An agreement regarding the replacement of the school principal between local community members and the education department in 2020 was never implemented. As of 2021, the education department has not undertaken any measures to monitor the school activities or replace the principal.

Officials of the Jayawijaya education department claim that basic education data (Dapodik) for the Taela Primary school indicates normal school activities. However, the official admitted that he had not visited the school yet. On 16 September 2021, the local parliament member, Senius Hilapok, called upon the education department in Jayawijaya to immediately investigate the allegations against the school principal in Talea.

NGOs and other observers keep criticising the Government for the low education standards which continue to exist in West Papua. Mainly, the Papua Province falls far behind national standards regarding availability, accessibility, quality and adequacy of education services. Despite considerably large special autonomy funds allocated to the provincial and local governments in West Papua, the education situation has hardly improved over the past decade.

Examples of misappropriation of education funds and government negligence have been reported from the Yalimo area in the central Papuan highlands. Today, the area spreads over the Papuan regencies Yahukimo and Yalimo.

All schools in Yalimo have been closed since the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic in West Papua in early 2020. The teachers have moved to the surrounding towns or larger coastal cities, where they continue to receive their salaries. Local government institutions and officials have not responded to the absence of teachers through sanctions against the misconduct.