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

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    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.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora