The Tanoto Foundation recently cemented a partnership agreement with the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to increase access to junior secondary school education for Indonesian students in remote areas of the country. The foundation’s support will benefit combination primary and junior secondary schools, also called “one roof” schools, in Polewali Mandar Regency in West Sulawesi and Bondowoso Regency in East Java. In addition, the foundation will use the information and best practices learned from the project to improve educational programs at 11 of its own partner schools in Riau and Jambi Provinces, Sumatra. Gunilla Olsson, UNICEF’s representative in Indonesia, noted that her organization hopes to collaborate on other initiatives with the Tanoto Foundation in the future.
Through the partnership, the Tanoto Foundation will provide funding to boost the capacities of the one roof schools and to provide training for the instructors who teach there. The ultimate goal is to keep more youth in schools that can offer them a high-quality education. Indonesia is a rapidly developing nation in which about 23% of junior secondary school-age youth do not attend school. The situation worsens as these teens grow older. Nearly one-third of Indonesian teenagers have quit school by the age of 16, and close to two-thirds have abandoned their education by age 18. Poor families in Indonesia find it especially difficult to afford to send children to school beyond the elementary level. The loss to individual development and national economic prosperity is significant.
The one roof school places all students from primary school through 9th grade within a single building. This enables an easier transition to the junior secondary level, because it allows for a familiar setting and routine for students and their families. The one roof school program also focuses on relieving the financial burden of sending these children to secondary school.
Indonesian-born entrepreneur Sukanto Tanoto established the Tanoto Foundation out of a desire to broaden the opportunities available to Indonesians in need, particularly in the realm of education. A self-made businessman and the head of the $15 billion RGE Group, Mr. Tanoto was forced by circumstances to conclude his own formal education while still in his teens. His background thus makes the opportunity to assist youth facing similar challenges all the more meaningful to him and his family.