The human resources in Papua Province, which are currently left behind compared to the other provinces in Indonesia, have the potential to catch up if the development in other sectors in Papua is stable.
The achievement of the Human Development Index (HDI)—an indicator of human resource development in a region as measured by the level of health, education and a decent standard of living—in Papua Province is currently the lowest compared to the other provinces in Indonesia.
Fortunately, based on some data analysis, the HDI of Papua Province will surpass the HDI achievements of other provinces with the lowest HDI, because the growth indicators for Papua’s education and economic level are currently higher than those of the other provinces. The figure is even higher than the national average. The calculation is certainly based on the assumption that development in Papua is stable.
In 2018, Papua was recorded as a province with the lowest HDI with a figure of 60.06. The HDI of Papua Province is far below that of the national average in 2018 which reached 71.39. The region is in fact the lowest among the Indonesian provinces with the lowest HDI. The others are West Papua (63.74), East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) (64.39), West Sulawesi (65.1), West Kalimantan (66.98) and West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) (67.3).
The Government’s Main Efforts on Papua’s Human Resource Development
The government affirms that it will make Papua and West Papua as one of the top priorities in the development of human resources (HR) and infrastructure. This step was taken as a commitment to make Papua an important part of Indonesia. Therefore, education and health sectors are now a top priority in Papua.
Various programs have been and continue to be implemented, such as the Higher Education Affirmation (Afirmasi Pendidikan Tinggi/ADIK) and Secondary Education Affirmation (Afirmasi Pendidikan Menengah/ADEM) programs in which around 600 Papuan youth study in the best schools.
Besides that, the 1,000 Mandatory Quota has also been offered by the central government, particularly President Joko Widodo, for all Papuan youth to be accepted in state-owned institutions such as AKMIL, AKPOL, AAU and AAL.
This quota is also applicable for enrollment to state-owned colleges such as STPDN, STAN and many more. The goal is to have the graduates earn a career in the bureaucracy, TNI and POLRI. Thus, they will receive the opportunity to become leaders of the country.
The regional government in Papua stated that with education, Papuan students do not only adapt to teaching and learning process but also accept diversities based on cultures and religions. Education is a means to instill mutual respect for differences.
In achieving successful educational programs, the central government is committed to consistently increase the number of educators in Papua. The fact that young Papuans are currently active in many fields is proof that there are still optimism and positivity in the land of paradise despite the low Human Development Index. Therefore, it is the educator’s duty to adjust their optimism to interest in knowledge.
Challenges on Papua’s Human Resource Development
There is one obstacle currently faced by Papua Province. In 2018, the highest human development gap between districts and cities in Indonesia occurred in Papua Province. This discrepancy can be seen from the differences in achievement between the capital city of Papua Province, Jayapura and Nduga District, one of the areas known as a conflict area. The HDI of Jayapura is higher by 50.16% than that of Nduga.
This only means that there is still inequality that occurs in Papua Province in terms of human resource development. If the government does not pay attention to this matter, it will lead to a social gap between the regions in the near future that will certainly obstruct the ongoing holistic development there.
Papuans in International Perspective: the Eradication of Racial Issues
There is another challenge in supporting human resource development in Papua—which is actually one of the most crucial ones: racial issues. Papuans are still viewed as people of the low race just because of their skin color and ethnicity.
Therefore, the Indonesian Government also takes an effort to eradicate these racial issues. On an occasion, the Indonesian Ambassador to New Zealand, Tantowi Yahya said that the government abroad continues to make various efforts to explain the real situation in Papua to the international community, where development of infrastructure, human resource and democracy have experienced leaps and bounds.
He invited some indigenous Papuans who were in key positions, such as students, artists, musicians and governmental officers, to jointly build a positive Papuan narrative to change the perspectives of the international community regarding the land of Cenderawasih birds.
Chairman of the Indonesian National Student Movement (GMNI), Arjuna Putra Aldino, added that the problem of segregation based on racial issues has actually disappeared since the declaration of the Youth Pledge back in 1928.
He believed that racial issues have always been brought up by colonialists in order to commit their divide-and-rule politics. Thus, it is hoped that the government will always truly show justice and equality in law enforcement, creating non-discriminatory regulations.
Edo Kondologit, a native Papuan musician, who was also invited to that event, said that the central and regional governments, as well as the local community, should cooperate well to accelerate developments in Papua. Well-managed financing and good communication between all parties are the keys to success.