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Volunteers use graffiti to teach Jakarta's street kids


05-12-2014 06:27 BJT

In the Indonesian capital Jakarta, volunteer teachers are teaming up with graffiti artists to motivate street children. Artists are using their spray paints to create colourful images that could compete with any children's book. The project has received support from child activists and the public, for providing alternative education for children often forced to work on the street.

By day these artists work in advertising, and by night they create graffiti designs in a public park in Jakarta.

Five young professionals from an ad agency have enlisted the help of fellow graffiti artists to spray paint the walls of the park.

It's all part of a social project dubbed "Graffiteach," which uses graffiti to educate poor children who work on the streets.

"Graffiteach" uses graffiti to educate poor children on Jakarta

"Graffiteach" uses graffiti to motivate poor children on Jakarta's streets.

"We are using graffiti as a medium for teaching, because street children have a close relationship with graffiti," said Ronny Pratama, founder of Graffiteach. These children operate on street corners near walls that are often covered with graffiti showing obscenity and gang signs. So we came up with the idea of turning graffiti into something useful."

The project recently began working with a non-governmental group to hold open teaching sessions in public places.

They invite large groups of street children to learn English, math, science, health and culture, and are providing alternative ways to help kids who cannot afford to go to school.

"The theme we're covering is Indonesian culture. Indonesia is a vast country, but we are seeing increasing divisiveness in our society. Therefore these children should learn that even though we have many cultural traditions, we must remain united as a nation," Pratama said.

One of the participants is Nur Robiatul. She had to leave school three years ago and started making money by begging on the street.

"I am so happy to be able to get together with my friends and learn about things that I did not know before, such as English and culture," Nur said.

These volunteers hope Graffiteach will motivate street children in the Indonesian capital to continue learning beyond the formal school environment.

Graffiteach started in February 2013, and within a year, they have completed 20 graffiti projects around the capital. The project founders are currently looking into expanding the volunteer work to other parts of the country.

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