Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, bullying has been an ongoing problem. This is even worse for teens, especially with the clique culture and peer pressure. The West Papuan teens are also familiar with these issues. As much as they miss going back to regular schools, having to deal with bullying is something they never look forward to.
Meet 13-Year-Old Refaldo
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, this Sorong native teen used to divide his time between schools and helping out his parents on the farm. His activities in the latter include planting and growing vegetables in the fields in the back of their home.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Refaldo has stopped going to school and had to learn everything from home. Staying home with his parents and two older siblings, Refaldo has been learning through the school’s Whatsapp Group and an educational program on the local radio station. This program is supported by UNICEF and a local partner.
To many kids in Indonesia, studying at home all day long may not always be easy. There are plenty of other distractions, like the urge to play games all the time, fatigue from too much screen time, and boredom. Refaldo, fortunately, appreciates distance learning and has claimed that these learning sources have kept him focused on his schoolwork.
Refaldo said he was glad for the radio show. Otherwise, he would not be able to organize his study. Although he admitted that he was missing his friends, he would like to go back to school without having to face any type of bullying.
How The Radio Program Has Taught Refaldo About Dealing with Bullying
Refaldo mentioned an incident at school once in which he was caught in between. A boy from another class approached his friend and demanded that he give him money so that he could buy food or other things. Refaldo’s friend got angry, and the two ended up having a fight. As a helpless bystander, Refaldo had no idea what to do.
For teenagers like Refaldo, they need proper support to go through their daily obstacles in life. Thanks to UNICEF, there has been a program for teenagers since January 2019. The program is called life skills’ education in Sorong, West Papua.
This program has been done for ten primary and 12 secondary schools in Sorong. Since the pandemic, the program has moved to educational radio broadcasts. From this program, Refaldo and other West Papuan teens get to learn and receive many tips, including how to handle bullying.
Refaldo was glad that the radio program had helped him a lot with his daily problems as a teenager. According to him, the program had given him tips on how to handle bullying.
“I used to hesitate whenever any friends asked me to let them copy my homework,” he admitted, fearing that he might have lost friends if he had said no. “Now I just say no and wonder why they won’t do their own homework.”
Although his friends got angry first at his rejection, they soon forgot it and still wanted to play with him.
The resolution to that incident was not the only result of having listened to the radio program for teens. Refaldo admitted that his confidence had improved as well. He also believed that, with the new problem-solving technique that he had known and acquired, he was ready to go back to school and apply that on a regular basis.
Refaldo’s father is a farmer. He loves helping him on the farm between his studying schedules. However, he is not intent on following in his father’s footsteps. Refaldo aspires to become a teacher.
“My teachers are so nice to me, so that’s why I want to be like them too,” he declared.
Other Advantages Of This Radio Program
Refaldo is not the only West Papuan teen participating in this program from UNICEF. There are 4,480 teenagers from junior high schools participating in this program called “Supporting Girls To Thrive In Indonesia”. This program aims to reduce school retention, improve learning outcomes, and protect students from violence in school.
So far, this program has been focusing on primary and secondary school students in Sorong, West Papua. For multi-faceted schools, this program carries out protection, education, empowerment, and WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) elements together.
This program is to promote changes regarding social norms and a positive learning environment. The West Papuan teens are also part of young Indonesians. They are dealing with the same issues many teenagers face on a daily basis, from bullying to insecurity.
Hopefully, with similar programs like this one by UNICEF, teenagers like Refaldo do not only gain access to education. They will work on their insecurities, improve their confidence, and grow up to become independent, resourceful, and still kind.
Last but not least, when the COVID-19 pandemic is fully over, all students can go back to school without having to worry about the virus.