‘I really hope my children can get a good education up to university. I want them to be successful,’ says Siti, a farmer and mother whose daughter is preparing for junior high school with the support of the Indonesian Government’s Bantuan Siswa Miskin (BSM) social assistance program.
Siti and her family live in the district of Sleman on the slopes of fiery Mount Merapi. Although the region’s main city, Yogyakarta, is a well-known centre of art and education, rising expenses prevent many poor families from sending their children to school.
The BSM program provides cash transfers for school attendance. Australia supports the program through the Vice President’s National Team for Accelerating Poverty Reduction
BSM provides the transfers directly to eligible students. Amounts rise with the level of education, from IDR360,000 (A$38) for primary school to around IDR1.2 million (A$127) a year for a university student.
Siti uses BSM to buy books, stationery, bags and shoes for her children.
‘Our economic situation is not good and it is difficult for us to fulfil our children’s school’s needs,’ she says.
‘If my children ask for something, we often cannot meet the need immediately. Actually, I feel sorry for my children because if I cannot give them what they ask for, they become different from their friends. Sometimes, I need two weeks or even a month before I can give them what they request.’
BSM also helps families allocate a larger portion of their income to other basic needs. Mother-of-three Sri is another recipient. ‘Since we received BSM in 2011, the money we usually used to buy school necessities has been spent on baby milk and also daily food because I don’t have any land to cultivate and I have to buy everything,’ she says.
BSM has encouraged poor households to be positive about schools and the education of their children. Some parents did not dream that their children could continue from primary to secondary or even higher levels of education.
BSM has society-wide benefits by promoting an educated, curious and productive workforce. The program has assisted 8.7 million poor students in 2013 at primary and secondary education levels. To improve its effectiveness, a new targeting mechanism is being implemented using the BSM Potential Beneficiaries Cards and a unified database of poor families