The Teaching Post
    Category: Issues & Ideas By : Shamsiya Mohammadi Read : 375 Date : Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - 19:25:11

    courtesy of The Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre

    The Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre (CRLC) is perhaps one of the most unique educational institutions in Indonesia. Set up by refugees in 2014, it was relatively unknown until it was catapulted from obscurity after a slew of local and international media coverage and an engaging Australian documentary.

    Located in Bogor, CRLC was set up by Hazara refugees, coming from Afghanistan and Pakistan, who were stuck in Indonesia in what was meant to be a waystation before resettlement as asylum seekers in a Western country such as Australia or Canada. However, as they await permission for entry they found themselves—about 5,000 in total—stuck in limbo, not knowing when—or even if—they could ever leave Indonesia, as the global resettlement rate is below 1%, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) data.

    So, four years ago, two refugees established the CRLC, the first school exclusively for refugees in Indonesia. “I couldn’t tolerate children playing in the streets with nothing to do, no rights or status,” says CRLC co-founder Muzafar Ali. “It was our disadvantage that drove us to do something good for our kids.”

    Starting with less than 20 students and a $200 donation from an Australian couple for a month’s rent, the two then raised another $33,700 to keep the school going for another two years. The school now has nearly 200 students and 18 staff. “It started as a learning center for kids, but today it gives us hope, a sense of community, a voice, and recognition,” says CRLC Managing Director Abdul Khalil Payeez. Running four days a week, the school offers morning classes to children between five to 17, and afternoon English classes for almost 60 women, many illiterate in their own language. This year, CRLC has expanded to a second shift, teaching hourly computer and online courses for students above 17 years.

    Soon CRLC was discovered by the local and global media. From 2014 to today, more than 10 articles were written or aired about the place, including BBC World, and the Sydney Morning Herald. The CRLC website has a separate page for “media,” listing coverage from nine media. The spotlight got brighter after the documentary “The Staging Post” by Australian filmmaker Jolyon Hoff was released last year. The film examines the school and provides a window onto the plight of the Hazara. “The core idea behind the center and the film is that refugees can be part of the solution,” says Jolyon.

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