National News – September 26, 2006
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The government is initiating a program to send some 800,000 street children to school. Their parents, if they also live on the street, will be trained for work abroad or in other areas of the country.
The program will be jointly conducted by Manpower and Transmigration Minister Erman Suparno and Social Affairs Minister Bachtiar Chamsyah.
Erman said children living on the streets would sent to pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) and open high schools at the government’s expense, while adults would be trained to join labor export training programs or resettlement programs.
‘This is a new program that will start in January with the hope that there will be no more beggars and street singers at the traffic lights and in public buses in major cities,’ Erman told The Jakarta Post here over the weekend.
He said the government had allocated Rp 59 trillion (about US$6.4 billion) this year for effort.
He explained that street children aged seven to 18 would be sent to pesantren for elementary and secondary education before attending vocational programs at government-run training centers.
‘ "They will receive monthly cash aid to meet their daily needs while they study at the pesantren or open schools. After completing high school, they will undergo vocational training to ready them to work overseas or join the resettlement program," he said.
Erman said street singers who had already graduated from high school would be trained for overseas employment, and couples living on the streets would join the transmigration program.
"Working abroad, they are expected to earn at least Rp 1.5 million to Rp 2 million a month. Those joining the transmigration program will be resettled on sparsely inhabited islands across the archipelago," he said. He added that many impoverished parents have forced their children to beg on the streets to survive.
Marudin Simanihuruk, the director general for labor inspection at the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, said he was still building a complete database on street children and street singers in major cities as well as on Islamic schools willing to participate.
"This program is part of the national movement to eliminate child labor and alleviate poverty," he said. "