News / Asia

Unregistered Children in Indonesia Suffer Disadvantage

Santi with her four-month-old son and neighbor. The 26-year-old mother says she cannot afford birth registration for her children, Jakarta, Indonesia, March 2, 2013. (K. Lamb/VOA)
Santi with her four-month-old son and neighbor. The 26-year-old mother says she cannot afford birth registration for her children, Jakarta, Indonesia, March 2, 2013. (K. Lamb/VOA)
Kate Lamb
With high costs and excessive red tape, obtaining a birth certificate in Indonesia is usually a bureaucratic nightmare. For millions in the country’s poor and marginalized communities, lack of the document means no access to education and basic healthcare.

After collecting plastic bottles and sorting through trash, 26-year-old Santi returns home to her small wooden shack.

Her son plays banjo on local buses for spare change, and together they make just enough to get by.

The makeshift wood and corrugated iron shacks where Jakarta mother Santi lives with her three children, Jakarta, Indonesia, March 2, 2013. (K. Lamb/VOA)The makeshift wood and corrugated iron shacks where Jakarta mother Santi lives with her three children, Jakarta, Indonesia, March 2, 2013. (K. Lamb/VOA)
x
The makeshift wood and corrugated iron shacks where Jakarta mother Santi lives with her three children, Jakarta, Indonesia, March 2, 2013. (K. Lamb/VOA)
The makeshift wood and corrugated iron shacks where Jakarta mother Santi lives with her three children, Jakarta, Indonesia, March 2, 2013. (K. Lamb/VOA)
Opportunities are few for people who live in this Jakarta slum.

That’s especially true for the children, many of whom officially do not exist.

Santi says she cannot afford to pay for birth certificates for her three children.

But without a certificate they cannot go to school, severely limiting their future employment options. Of course she is worried, she says, but money is so tight she is just grateful there is enough food to eat.
 
Santi’s children are among as many as 35 million whom activists estimate are unregistered - most from poor and marginalized communities.

Amrullah Sofyan, a project manager at Plan Indonesia, says birth registration is absolutely critical.

"Birth registration is part of the first identity for the children to become citizens because it is linked with other rights. Identity, nationality, right to education, and right to health," he said.

Without a legal identity, access to education and basic healthcare is denied. Marriage registration, a passport and the right to vote are also out of reach.

Plan, an organization that focuses on child rights, has initiated global programs to facilitate universal birth registration.

Last year, the group surveyed five slums in Jakarta and found that more than 60 percent of parents had never tried to register their children.

But that was just a small study. Across Indonesia, the figures are staggering - and getting worse.  Plan estimates that as many as three million additional children each year join the 30 to 35 million who are unregistered.

Those numbers mean Indonesia has one of the lowest rates of birth registration among countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore and Vietnam, more than 90 percent of the population is registered.

Sofyan says the government does not take low registrations seriously enough, by treating the problem more as a bureaucratic issue of population administration.

"It is a matter of citizenship," he said. "They are citizens of this country. If we are only concerned with population administration, we will only reject and send them back to their village… We ask the government when they make a policy not to be blind to the people because it is a reality. Street children and marginalized children [are] a reality. The policy should be open."

These are the sounds of lunchtime at an informal school for street children.

It’s run by a local resident, who lives close by to Santi’s slum.

Each day up to 30 children attend the basic lessons. In the afternoon they help their parents sort plastic, and busk or beg for change.

Ferdy, an official from the Social Affairs Ministry, has been observing the conditions of the school and is collecting data in the area. He says the government has launched a national child welfare program.

The goal of the program, he says, is give every child a savings account with a one-off deposit of around 150 dollars to cover basic education and health costs.

But without a birth certificate, these children - and at least 30 million others - are unlikely to qualify.

Pipit, 56, who founded the school three years ago, says the children are smart, have potential and deserve a chance.

The students even wrote a song about it. The chorus talks about their dreams to go to real school.

But for now, it’s street school or nothing.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Lika from: Surabaya
March 16, 2013 7:22 AM
For education, providing a sum of money arguably could help those kids. It'd simply mask the underlying problem with fovernment's failure in providing free education.

Birth certificates for the unregistered poor children should also free of any charge. Curently the cost for applying for birth certificates are low, even free. But the legal cost is very expensive. They shouldn't pay those "legal costs" for it's not clear what those costs are for (or where it goes).

In Response

by: Leo from: Japan
March 17, 2013 5:15 PM
Why the heck getting a mere birth certificate is not free? It's beyond outrageous.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid