Indonesia closer to forging child-friendly cities

Indonesia closer to forging child-friendly cities

The government is expected to name a few cities hospitable to children this year.

The Women's Empowerment and Children Protection Ministry said Thursday President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo would acknowledge the five cities during the commemoration of National Children's Day, which falls on July 23.

The ministry's child protection deputy, Wahyu Hartomo, told The Jakarta Post the cities were Surakarta in Central Java, Surabaya in East Java, as well as Denpasar and Badung, both in Bali.

The ministry is using a five-level rating system in its evaluation of child-friendlines. From lowest to hightest, those levels are "Pratama", "Madya", "Nindya", "Utama" and finally, "child-friendly".

Currently, there are 239 cities in the programme, up from 15 cities in 2010.

The cities would be the first to graduate to the status of "Utama", one level below child-friendly.

No city has ever been honoured as a "child-friendly city" falling short on at least 31 indicators.

Among of the 31 indicators are strategies for overcoming child abuse.

Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais, said that there were a number of steps a city needed to take before being declared child-friendly.

"It must have a clear plan on how to protect children.

We need to have a process for monitoring how the plan is conducted to see is anyone left behind.

This needs to be transparent for everyone," she announced in Jakarta on Thursday.

Prior to selecting a city to join the programme, the ministry first holds talks with local heads.

"Do they have the commitment? If they have it, then we start by establishing a working committee consisting of government officials, child experts and NGOs.

Then we gather primary data to see where the problems are.

Then, the committee works to find solutions for the implementation of regional policy," Wahyu said.

To ensure that the cities achieve "Utama" status, the ministry helps guide local governments, he said.

"We will also conduct regular evaluations to see if they meet the indicators set," Wahyu said.

In addition to child-friendly cities, the ministry also expects the country to establish its first child-friendly schools this year.

"The programme [to establish such schools] has just been approved by the National Development Planning Board [Bappenas] and we are currently drawing up indicators.

Our target is 2015. We have been in talks with some cities [about the project]," Wahyu said.

In setting up the child-friendly schools, Bappenas will work with the Culture and Elementary and Secondary Education Ministry.

"The ministry sometimes don't consider establishing child-friendly environment in schools at all. All they think of is the curriculum," said Wahyu.

Culture and Elementary and Secondary Education Minister Anies Baswedan recently said he would transform schools into places where students enjoyed their experience.

"We need to make sure our schools consistent with the philosophical foundation that was made by the father of education, in Indonesia, Ki Hajar Dewantara.

He referred to schools as gardens. A garden is a place that people love to visit," Anies said.

The Federation for Indonesian Teachers Associations (FSGI) secretary-general Retno Listyarti, meanwhile, said that schools should not only be fun, but also free from bullying and violence.

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