Wed, 28 Jun 2000

City told to improve its shelter program

JAKARTA (JP): An activist said on Tuesday that the city administration's street children sheltered housing program had failed and suggested it invited nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to take part in the project.

Head of the Indonesian Child Welfare Foundation's child information division, Andri Yoga Utami, pointed out that the failure of the administration to carry out the program was due to improper planning and lack of qualified human resources.

Andri said the now defunct ministry of social affairs managed its shelters in cooperation with capable NGOs more successfully.

"Unlike the ministry, the administration hasn't involved NGOs to help them with the implementation phases from planning to monitoring," she said.

Andri also urged the administration to improve its approach to managing the program, which will be under its authority in line with regional autonomy.

The sheltered housing program, which was launched in cities across the country a few years ago, was designed to provide nonformal education and vocational training to help street children to survive life on the street.

"The administration's shelters are almost completely ineffective because they only feed street children, and fail to fulfill the program's educational mission," Andri said.

In Jakarta, there are at least 55 NGOs taking part in the defunct ministry's shelter program. Some 4,000 street children are currently being helped by the program at a cost of a yearly Rp 4,214 billion allocated from the State Budget.

According to research by the foundation, Jakarta is currently home to some 11,000 street children under 16 years old, who sell candy and newspapers, shine shoes and beg for money to make a living.

Jakarta's street children hang around 312 spots in the city, particularly on major streets and in bus terminals and shopping centers.

Many children gather at these places until late into the night.

The foundation says that the children are subject to security raids, sexual abuse and traffic accidents.

Research conducted jointly by the ministry of social affairs and Atma Jaya University in 1999 shows that street children decide to live and work on the streets mainly to support their families and finance their own education.

Some of them are also on the streets to avoid abuse by their parents.

At a plenary session on Monday, Governor Sutiyoso told the City Council that his office would continue with the sheltered housing program to protect and foster street children through social guidance and vocational training.

Waluyo of the city's Social Agency said on Tuesday that his office was having difficulty introducing the children to the administration's fostering programs and shelters.

"When we are on the streets, the street children always avoid officials, thinking that they will be captured," Waluyo said. (06)