"Today is the second day for them to attend school," Junior Sigalingging, head of the Pekanbaru Immigration detention center, remarked here on Tuesday.
Despite Indonesia yet having to ratify Convention 1951 on refugees, it has accommodated foreign refugees on humanitarian grounds. The UNHCR noted that Indonesia had sheltered over 14 thousand foreign refugees.
Citing Presidential Decree No. 12 of 2016, Junior pointed out that it did not specifically stipulate that foreign refugees can attend schools in Indonesia. The decision to allow child refugees to attend schools in Indonesia was based on the coordination between the Education and Culture Ministry, Directorate General of Immigration, and Education Office of Pekanbaru.
It is the first time for the Indonesian government to allow foreign child refugees to attend schools, and Pekanbaru was chosen as a pilot project.
"We believe that all children have the right to receive education," Junior emphasized.
Pekanbaru immigration's detention center will issue a recommendation for children, with information on the names of parents and the UNHCR registration number.
Currently, some 999 refugees are staying in Pekanbaru City, and elementary-level education will be provided to child refugees.
Principal of SDN 56 Elementary School Andri Saputra stated that child refugees, also wearing red and white uniform akin to other elementary school students, can communicate fluently in Bahasa Indonesia.
"They looked so happy to attend school," he noted, adding that the school had provided all necessary books for the children, and other expenses for their study will be provided by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Farshad, a refugee from Afghanistan, who had stayed in Pekanbaru for 3.5 years, expressed happiness on seeing his eldest son attend school.
"Thanks to the Indonesian Government and IOM. This is what we want, to have our children go to school," Farshad, who stays in Pekanbaru with his wife and three children, noted. Related news: Foreign refugees miss celebrating Eid Al-Adha at homes
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