Thanks to the Tanoto Foundation, teachers and students in the Indonesian province of North Sumatra recently enjoyed a puppet show that combined entertainment with practical information on recycling. Participants gathered at Madrasah Diniyah Awaliyah Nurul Ilmi Tanah Datar to watch the show “Garbage and Ice Cream,” which featured six teachers portraying a variety of ecologically minded and entrepreneurial characters. The show’s characters served as role models not only by collecting materials for recycling, but by selling the recyclables to earn extra money for an ice cream treat.
More than 30 teachers from several districts were in the audience. For the adults and the children who attended, the puppet show highlighted the importance and benefits of maintaining a clean environment and a health-focused lifestyle. Designed to encourage proper waste disposal and recycling in under-resourced Indonesian schools, the show also served to train a new group of program facilitators who will visit yet more schools in the nearby areas of Tebing Tinggi, Asahan, and Batubara.
In addition to fun events like the puppet show, the Tanoto Foundation funds a wide range of training programs for students and their instructors and school administrators. These trainings focus on basic personal hygiene, maintenance of school infrastructure, school library development, and lesson planning. In this way, the foundation works to support and bolster the Indonesian government’s efforts to improve education and social welfare in rural areas.
In 2012, Indonesian and international media publicized the country’s Ministry of Environment measures that mandated the creation of local recycling and waste disposal programs. As one of the developing world’s fastest-growing nations, Indonesia is focused as much on promoting positive attitudes toward recycling as it is on formulating rules and regulations.
Established in the early 1980s by Indonesian entrepreneur Sukanto Tanoto and his wife as a vehicle for giving back some of their financial success to their fellow citizens, the Tanoto Foundation also provides higher education scholarships to deserving students from struggling families, supports business education for entrepreneurs, and assists with the building or re-building of Indonesia’s infrastructure.