“Education has the potential to enable today’s youths —the next generation of leaders —to rise above poverty and overcome their struggles.” — Johary Mustapha, Founder & CEO of Forest Interactive.
Education offers underprivileged children a path out of poverty towards a promising future. In conjunction with the United Nation’s International Day of Education, Forest Interactive Indonesia paid a visit to Rumah Belajar Gartala, a community-focused learning center initiated by several passionate college students.
It all started with the idea of providing a fun learning platform for their younger siblings during the pandemic, Rifa Rihhadatul'Aisy Setiadin and Saliimah Abdiilah Husna established Rumah Belajar Gartala in the Sarijadi, Bandung, West Java.
Derived from Sanskrit, Gartala is a combination of gauri (peaceful life), arunika (ray of morning sunlight), and kartala (illuminator).
"As the name implies, we want the existence of this learning hub to be a platform to realize creative, innovative, and inclusive teaching and learning process for all young Indonesians," said Saliimah Abdiilah Husna, co-founder of Rumah Belajar Gartala.
The two founders are also currently pursuing their degrees in Bandung. Salimah is an Informatics Engineering student at Politeknik TEDC, while Rifa is majoring in Pendidikan Guru Sekolah Dasar (Elementary School Teacher Education) at Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia. They are childhood friends who also share the same vision— to make education accessible for every kid in Indonesia.
Concerned about the decreasing productivity of their siblings during the pandemic, this has led both of them to create an interesting way to learn for their younger siblings. Shortly after, their siblings’ playmates, who live in the same area, were also interested in joining the class. The words about the exciting learning experience then spread across the neighborhood, attracting the attention of other school dropouts who coincidentally walked by the learning center.
Rumah Belajar Gartala has since grown into a learning community for children in the area where children get help with their education on a daily basis. There are 25 students who study at Rumah Belajar Gartala, including surviving families who live nearby. They joined the learning session at Rumah Belajar Gartala because most of them do not get a proper education; some of them dropped out of school while the rest of them went to school but their learning ability is low. However, these facts did not stop them to continue learning.
Rumah Belajar Gartala offers classes every Saturday and Sunday. The teacher will divide each meeting into two sessions. The first session, which is 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (GMT+7), is for children who have dropped out of school. During the session, they will learn how to read and write. The second session starts from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m., intended for students who would like to consult and seek assistance with their homework and other school material.
The increasing number of students who are interested to join the learning sessions at Rumah Belajar Gartala has made Rifa and Salimah become even more committed to their visions. Their active sharing of activities at Rumah Belajar Gartala on social media has gained attention from other students from various regions such as Jakarta, Pangandaran, Bekasi, Karawang, and Bandung to volunteer at Rumah Belajar Gartala.
At Rumah Belajar Gartala, 7 volunteers from the Malaysia-based tech company interacted and colored together with the children over the session before presenting them with a goody bag each, in addition to a contribution of essential teaching equipment for the organization.
Shiddiq Arrasyid, one of the volunteers who is also the Creative Assistant Manager at Forest Interactive, said he was ecstatic for the opportunity to meet the children at Rumah Belajar Gartala.
“It’s always a good call and experience for everyone to join a volunteering programme, especially for our team in the Creative & Multimedia department who work tirelessly, day in and day out. By joining this programme with Rumah Belajar Gartala, not only we were able to take a break from the work routine but also do our part and give back to the community. After meeting these young and bright children and talking to Rifa and Salimah, I realized that we, as an individual and a company, play an important role in the development of inclusive education in Indonesia.”
Additionally, Rifa also believes in equal education for all children in the country, regardless of their families’ financial statuses.
“We are united by one same vision — that is to provide education for all. If our contribution would in any way help to break the chains of poverty through education, then we will commit to it.”