Education across Indonesia is vastly different from what we take for granted here, not only in the access to schooling, but in the freedom of study we enjoy in tertiary education.
Indonesian life especially on the island of bali, is heavily influenced by religious devotion. The largely Hindu culture of bali permeates almost every aspect of day to day life, and is reflected within the education pathways available for children across the island. Around 3-4 hours every day are devoted to the temple (B. Styles, pers. comm. 30 April 2015), and as a result schooling starts early, at around 7am and finishes at 2pm, leaving the rest of the day open for religious activity. Within the temple, boys learn instruments such as the Gaemelon while girls learn traditional dance. As the primary source of income for most balinese lies within the tourism industry, there is a heavy push to learn, and be proficient in english. Positions even as seemingly simple as working a till at McDonalds, require a university level of English. For those who do participate in a formalised education, it is often in the tourism sector, for careers in hotel management and food service.
Children who are not wealthy enough to attend school, living in Kampungs, often learn the trade for which their village is known. “As you come towards the centre of bali, [the villages] specialise in a certain trade, so silver smithing, textiles, paintings, sculpture wooden or stone, and they ship products en mass down to the tourist hotspots.”(B. Styles, pers. comm. 30 April 2015) This is where creativity breeds as crafts are taught by fathers, uncles, grandfathers and the ‘Guru’s’ of each village. Although these wares are largely for tourist sales, it is the religious festivals that are perhaps the most beautifully and carefully crafted. Creativity flourishes as 4-5 day religious ceremonies are adorned in hand made decoration. A cremation festival involves all those who live in the Kampung marching around the small but densely populated village, “the colour and creativity in these events is truly spectacular” (B. Styles, pers. comm. 30 April 2015)
Although there has been a strong push towards western formalised education in the past 30-40 years, “there will always be that bedrock of traditionalism”(B. Styles, pers. comm. 30 April 2015) as Indonesia’s rich cultural and religious history continue to drive the nation forward.