Indonesia Expat

Teaching in Indonesia’s Largest Trash Dump

Local organization Pesta Pendidikan is honoring the hardwork and service of teachers in Bantar Gebang, West Java, a community built in and around a landfill, by providing them with professional training and development. The initiative inspires educators across the archipelago to continue improving their teaching skills, no matter their circumstance.

Ibu Tati, Ibu Eva and Ibu Cucu are three dedicated teachers who spend their days teaching in the small administrative village of Sumur Batu in Bantar Gebang. Each of them have so far given 35, nine and 27 years of their lives respectively to make sure the people of Sumur Batu receive their right to proper education. To say that what they do is admirable would be an extreme understatement as Ibu Tati, Ibu Eva, Ibu Cucu and the rest of the teachers working in Bantar Gebang do not necessarily share a conventional teaching experience enjoyed by most teachers.

The area known as Indonesia’s largest trash dump – which is being developed into a waste residue processing centre – is home to approximately 119,230 residents, many of whom make a living by collecting waste.

Many of the scavenger families in Bantar Gebang reside in shelters built from waste materials. The neighbourhood is highlighted with a mountain trash comprised of around 7,000 tons of daily rubbish picked up from all over Jakarta. All of these make living conditions in Bantar Gebang even more incompatible with the residents’ health, as they face the risk of getting various kinds of sickness everyday. Under such a substandard living environment, it would be hard to make sure that education stays a top priority for young residents.


Photo by Wikimedia Commons
‘The neighbourhood is highlighted with a mountain trash comprised of around 7,000 tons of daily rubbish picked up from all over Jakarta.’ | Photo by Wikimedia Commons


That said, teachers like Ibu Tati, Ibu Eva and Ibu Cucu are determined to provide students in Bantar Gebang with appropriate education, especially when only a few of the children having access to conventional education. In 2014, only 51.4 percent of people in Sumur Batu completed nine years of school and there is still plenty of work to do to support residents with education.

For that reason, Pesta Pendidikan has come up with a campaign aimed at empowering teachers in Sumur Batu with training and development. The Bantu Guru Belajar Lagi campaign translates to ‘Help Teachers Learn Again.’ Through this initiative, the organization hopes to support teachers in developing their teaching skills so the students in the administrative village can get the ultimate learning experience. The teachers themselves have become aware of the need to have more productive approaches to students to bring a lasting impact on their learning achievements.

For young teacher Ibu Eva, for instance, it is important for teachers to understand different techniques in discussing and interacting with children in class. Ibu Tati, who has been a teacher since 1982, understands the importance of embedding positive values for her students and hopes that they could grow to become “individuals that will continue to study and able to make a contribution to themselves, their families, religions, as well as the society.” As for Ibu Cucu, she finds the importance of having an education system that is well-adjusted to the digital era.

All of these teachers are very much aware of the changing trends in education environment and they do not plan to be left behind.

The problem that teachers in Sumur Batu and the rest of Bantar Gebang are facing today is that they are not equipped with enough professional training and development to raise standards and competence. So far there is no national body that can fulfill their wish to progress or provide them with development programmes. Ultimately, students must adhere to an education system that does not necessarily prepare them for the future.

Pesta Pendidikan is giving teachers in Sumur Batu the opportunities to improve teaching skills by collecting donations that would be used to support these teachers with the required development courses and trainings. They did it by setting up a fundraising page at which has so far collected over Rp.95,000,000 (US$7,100). The collected fund will be allocated to training and development programmes in three elementary schools in Sumur Batu for a year.

That the teachers in Sumur Batu’s struggle to achieve development opportunities shows the need for the Indonesian education system to have a curriculum for teacher development. Reinforcing this means appreciating the work and service of teachers across the archipelago who have devoted their time to raise what could potentially become Indonesia’s future leaders. If we fail to address the issue, we would be dishonouring the legacy our teachers have passed on to us all.

To discover more about the programmes led by Pesta Pendidikan, please visit  


Featured Image by Pesta Pendidikan


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