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Human Interest Stories: Kemangkiran Guru di Papua

Teacher Absenteeism in Papua

During an unannounced visit by TNP2K staff to a primary school in Papua, it was found that grade 5 students were learning maths problems that were supposed to be taught in grade 2. Meanwhile, grade 4 students were learning Bahasa problems that were supposed to be taught in grade 1. The two classes were being taught by the same teacher, who was not present at the time because she had went home to cook for her family. And instead, a grade 4 student substituted for the teacher and taught his peers how to spell words. No teacher was teaching in the grade 5 class.

Papua bahasa lesson

Bahasa lessons in grade 4 (left) and maths lessons in grade 5 (right) in a primary school in Papua.

Out of the 12 civil servant teachers registered at the school, only three were present during the visit. As informed by the principal, since 2006/2007, several of the teachers left to continue their studies. However, upon completion, not one of these teachers had returned to teach. Nevertheless, their names were still registered at that school, and every month they receive salaries and allowances from the education office. This condition was clearly unfair for the other teachers who fulfil their daily teaching responsibilities. According to them, there are many teachers at that primary school, however, most were too lazy to teach and had moved to the city. “Teacher allowance payments are not routine. Remote area allowances are available, but this is kept a secret. We hope that these allowances can be transferred directly from the ministry to the accounts of each teacher,” they said.

A student replaced his teacher (left) and only three out of 12 civil servant teachers were present during school visit (right)

Reward and sanction mechanisms for teachers are regulated in Law Number 14 of 2005 on Teachers and Lecturers, and Government Regulation Number 74 of 2008 on Teachers. Education offices can issue warning letters and even fire teachers who are continually absent. However, in reality, sanctions are almost never implemented. Discussion with education offices in several districts of West Papua alleged that some absent teachers were politically connected, showed systemic absenteeism issues in government sectors and concerns that it would be even more difficult to find teachers who were willing to teach in remote areas.   

“Teacher welfare is not consistent. Remote area allowances are available, but this is kept a secret. We hope that welfare and professional allowances can be transferred directly from the ministry to the accounts of each teacher.”