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Mar 13, 2019

Tambora and Koja: Where Hope and Grit Grow

A glimpse of narrow alley in Tambora
A glimpse of narrow alley in Tambora

Our short visit to Tambora and Koja was worth remembering. To find out what kind of assistance these kids needed the most, we roamed through the nooks and crannies of both areas, talked to school principals and some of the students. As we learned about the problems surrounding their education, we also found things that we uncovered: the blatant depiction of their hardship and urgent needs. These two different locations evocatively portray multifaceted social and economic problems that hold the kids back from living up to their true potentials.

When we visited Tambora, we knew this was the region dubbed ‘the most populated sub-district in South East Asia’ yet couldn’t believe just how populated it really was. The neighborhood comprised of countless narrow alleys packed with small, semi-permanent houses in which the majority of them are only separated with plywoods. What really surprised us was that some houses could be inhabited by 3-5 poor families and they even take turns in resting as the house cannot accommodate all family members at once.

 The chaotic arrangement of the houses often resulted in a wildfire. The headmaster from a school that we visited mentioned that wildfire is a very common occurrence and she compared it to a regular social gathering. Imagine if every month there is a kid that could not go to school because their house is on fire. They lose everything in the blink of an eye. Schooling is not a priority as they have to rebuild their lives from scratch.

 Despite its extreme population density, Tambora is also a home for many aspiring students who are eager to pursue education but are constrained by economic problems. 90% of the students are coming from low socio-economic backgrounds, with families who struggle to make ends meet. These determined students do not know if they can continue their schooling or not.

 The other region that we visited was Koja. It has the highest population density in North Jakarta, but unlike Tambora, Koja is notorious for high rates of drug abuse, robbery, and even prostitution.  An issue arises when the local children cannot continue their education and fall in with this crowd.

 When we talked to the headmaster, he said that there are 2-3 children dropping out of school every year due to combined financial and social issues. Many of them decide to go back to their hometown, collect money and then return to school to continue their studies. This would delay the learning process. The majority of them graduate from elementary school but often are unsure if they have the financial ability to enroll for another stage of education.

Despite various limitations, communities have the vision to have a better life. Since years ago, they have been establishing low-cost primary schools aiming at educating the poor children in the area. The schools are thriving; they have been accommodating children who have little to zero money, but they don’t have the capability to ensure that those children can continue their schooling to secondary education.

 Tambora and Koja are embodiments of having a hard-knocked life. Hidden among the glittering and towering buildings of Jakarta, there are slum regions filled with poor aspiring children that desperately need your help to stay in school and break the cycle of poverty.

A glimpse of Koja's surrounding
A glimpse of Koja's surrounding
Mar 12, 2019

Jakarta On The Other Side

A Slum Neighborhood of Koja, North Jakarta
A Slum Neighborhood of Koja, North Jakarta

Jakarta is the capital city of Indonesia with vivid streetlights, shopping centers and office districts, inevitable traffic jams, heterogeneous people, and all the daily hustle bustle –we’re a big city! Just like Shanghai, Manila, or perhaps Singapore.

You could capture that ‘big city’ image in the business district. Otherwise, when you travel to some distant areas, there still lingers a significant socio-economic gap. About 90.900 people living under the poverty line in North Jakarta, while the other 83.200 are in West Jakarta.[1] This extreme poverty is linked to the high number of social welfare problems. Tambora district of West Jakarta is one of the most populated slum areas in Southeast Asia, the population density reaches 48.224 people/km2 that means approximately 4 people living in every meter squares.[2] While Koja district of North Jakarta is known for the high number of criminality which includes juvenile delinquency.[3]

When the overall condition is poor, we put concern on education as the core to tackle these issues. About dozen of schools are operating in both regions, 874 schools with 305.841 school-age children in North Jakarta, and 1.299 schools with 424.305 school-age children in West Jakarta.[4] However, those schools are struggling to maintain their operationalization such as poor facilities and the inability of students to pay for tuition and school necessities.

Nevertheless, brighter days are coming their way! You could be the one who lives their dreams by donating kindness through our page that will be enabled tomorrow, Monday 11th, 2019, stay tuned and mark your calendar!


Source of data:

[1] CIPS Publication – Low-Cost Private School; A Case Study in Jakarta

[2] Statistics Indonesia – Kecamatan Tambora dalam Angka

[3] Interview with the Headmaster of MTs. PERSIS Koja

[4] Ministry of Education and Culture (2015) –

A Low-Cost School in Tambora, North Jakarta
A Low-Cost School in Tambora, North Jakarta
Mar 11, 2019


Teachers in Tambora and Koja Low-Cost Schools
Teachers in Tambora and Koja Low-Cost Schools

Education has a vital role in our life. Most of the people that were accountable and responsible for that vital role, are our school teachers back when we needed that life advice and push to succeed. We want to highlight the importance of women’s contributions to Indonesia’s education over the past years. They are motherly, caring, and passionate in working to teach and educate young children from many backgrounds and races without prejudice.


Based on the 2017/2018 school year of Ministry of Education and Culture data, there are around 68,37% female teachers across Indonesia in comparison to 31,63% of male teachers in elementary schools. Also, there are 60,79% female teachers compared to the 39,21% male teachers for junior high schools in Indonesia. This data shows that female teachers are generally double the ratio of male teachers which showcases the passion these women have in educating future generations.


From the elementary schools that we’ve chosen to help, we’ve captured moments from Tunas Karya, Bina Pusaka, and Suraya Elementary School’s day-to-day activities, where they are located in Jakarta’s poorest districts, Tambora and Koja. We’ve seen that most of the teachers that are teaching in those schools are women. We are giving you a glimpse of female teachers who are helping these poor kids and still have the patience in teaching these needy kids while they barely have an income to cover their own lives. While the standard income of working people in Jakarta is about 4 million rupiahs, these women teachers only get half of that, and sometimes even less than half a million rupiahs. It is only noble we praise our teachers and mothers and value education highly by achieving better results and education quality.  


We want to keep you updated with photos and progress of the school’s preparation for the students to face their national and school final tests in the 6th grade soon! So keep yourselves updated on our project page at all times!   

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