Op Anggen primary school was founded in 1996, to serve a handful of students, by missionaries working in the remote and impoverished highlands of Papua, Indonesia. Today, in Bokondini village, 52 students are learning a curriculum which incorporates important development initiatives designed to strengthen the community by affecting change in attitudes and behaviors. Op Anggen is one of the Communities of Learning (COL) schools where Bokondini villagers and USAID work together to equip youth with knowledge to act as change agents to empower and advance their communities.
Sickness increases absences and drop-out rates among students while illness among adults prohibits the completion of daily responsibilities. Educators are trained to teach students hygiene essentials such as sanitary toilet use, and effective bathing, hand-washing and tooth-brushing practices, and in turn, building resistance to illness. Students also learn prevention measures against infectious diseases by understanding how these illnesses are spread. “Little Doctors,” student volunteers who encourage healthful practices among peers, reinforce these lessons. Monitoring of Op Anggen participants shows that these lessons have reached parents, grandparents and siblings, and healthful habits are being adopted.
Through Op Anggen’s expert-trained teachers, students gain quality education and instruction in computer skills, critical thinking, problem solving, English language, and character and moral building. These daily lessons enable Papuan youth to engage in an increasingly globalized world while passing this knowledge to their families. The school operates nine months out of the year with twenty new students accepted annually; fostering continuous knowledge sharing throughout the community.
Community building continues after the school day ends as monthly parent-teacher meetings show 90 percent parent participation where different tribal and religious factions sit next to each other united by one common goal: the future of their children. Students and community members receive leadership and ethics training to strengthen the abilities of new generations of young Papuans. Community collaboration is also fortified through weekend renovation improvements to the school and through an outreach group encouraging men to protect their families from domestic violence.
The Op Anggen school is the core of community progress of Bokondini; improving health, advancing education and encouraging participation in local government. More than 350 direct and indirect beneficiaries are impacted because of this COL system. This holistic approach to addressing community challenges is successful because of the multiplier effect of increased knowledge sharing through change agents: youth and their families. Through this COL, members of the community have become engaged and informed decision-makers allowing them to address health, education and social issues to sustain progress in the village.