ACTNews, JAKARTA – Being a teacher is not an easy job to do, especially with the uncertain welfare such as the honorary teachers and tahfiz (Quranic memorization) teachers whose income is still below the minimum wage. According to the Basic Education Data System (Dapodik) General Directorate of Primary and Secondary Education, there are 1,070,662 honorary teachers who earn below the minimum wage (an average IDR Rp. 300,000 to IDR 500,000 per month). These facts motivate Aksi Cepat Tanggap to launch the Sahabat Guru Indonesia (Indonesian Friends of Teachers) program, an aid program for underprivileged teachers initiated on the National Teacher's Day, Monday (11/25).
Ahyudin as the Chairperson of the ACT Board of Trustees stated that the main objective of the Sahabat Guru Indonesia program is to contribute to the improvement of education in Indonesia, especially related to the economic welfare of the teachers. "This program is a medium to encourage the economically underprivileged teachers to continue teaching. Teachers are an important element in determining the quality of education. They have a central role to build the character of Indonesian children. We want to continue to spread benefits and become a bridge to connect the generous benefactors in Indonesia and overseas to those who are in need. We believe that whoever helps his or her brothers who are in trouble, surely Allah will help facilitate his or her affairs in this world and the hereafter," he said.
ACT Program Director Wahyu Novyan added that many teachers in various parts of the country earn very little income. "The high number of low-income teachers seems to be problem for us to solve. Those who have devoted themselves to public education need more attention. For example, in Mentawai, the teachers in one of the local schools earn only IDR 500,000 a month. The school cannot always pay the teachers on time because of the difficult economic conditions. Nevertheless, the teachers keep tirelessly teaching the students, the future of this country," Wahyu said.
Through the Sahabat Guru Indonesia program, underprivileged teachers in Indonesia will receive financial allowance to support their economy. The allowance is given to those who earn less than IDR 1 million (including honorary teachers and tahfiz teachers), come from poor areas, and have high dedication to teach their students.
Chairman of the ACT Board of Trustees Ahyudin appreciated the poor teachers who have high dedication in educating the children of the nation. (ACTNews / Muhajir Arif Rahmani)
There are many challenges that have to be overcome to improve the education in Indonesia, from difficult access to schools, inadequate school facilities, to the minimum income of the teachers. One of the stories about being an honorary teacher came from M. Ramsudin Fajri who has been teaching as an honorary teacher for 10 years at MI Al-Huda Rancapinang. "In 2009 I taught voluntarily without receiving any money. Nevertheless, I continued teaching because at that time our school have not received the operational permit from the office of the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Pandeglang Regency. In 2010 our school finally received operational permits from the Ministry of Religious Affairs. We had 21 students then with two three-by-three meter classrooms," said Fajri.
Their operation had been funded by the community. In 2010, the teachers received only IDR 100,000 a month and were paid every three months. Whereas in 2013 until now, they receive IDR 300,000 that are given every three months.
"The teaching and learning activities continued even though we have to take turns with other teachers to be able to earn some money for our wives and children. But these problems will not dampen our spirit to continue teaching at the school because I am convinced that, one day, Allah will make it easy for us, " added Fajri.
This salary that they receive is very small compared to their daily needs. Therefore, not a few of them have to find side jobs. Lukman, an honorary teacher at Open Junior High School 17 Bekasi, is one of the honorary teachers that must take side jobs. After teaching, he will continue working as a honey product packager in order to make ends meet. "It's not enough to depend solely on my income from teaching, but it's not a problem. I devote myself as a teacher to teach children who mostly come from economically disadvantaged families," said Lukman.
To celebrate the National Teachers’ Day, the large number of poor honorary teachers is a reflection of Indonesian education. "This program will provide aid to teachers with economic difficulties in Indonesia, especially those who are still earning an uncertain and low income. Hopefully, this program can encourage the teachers and improve education in Indonesia," concluded Wahyu Novyan.