Realizing Education's Promise: Rebuilding Indonesia's madrasahs and returning students to the classroom after an earthquake

Source(s): World Bank, the
Children walking to school in Indonesia
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When a 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck the Cianjur district in Indonesia’s West Java province in November 2022, more than 13,000 students at private religious schools were thrown out of their classrooms because of severe damage to their buildings.

The World Bank worked with Indonesia’s government to quickly restore a safe learning environment. With support from the Bank’s Realizing Education’s Promise Project, the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) rehabilitated 64 madrasahs in the district and returned students to the classroom.

“Within a few days after we sent pictures of our damaged school, we received a response from the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Cianjur and their central office,” said Afi Suprapti, a kindergarten madrasah principal. “We were also connected to the MoRA project team. Then we received financial assistance to rehab our school. When we heard about it, we were very happy.”

Building on lessons learned

Indonesia is among the countries with highest risk of natural disasters–including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides. These natural hazards can damage educational infrastructure and disrupt the learning process.

"After the earthquake, the school was closed. So students were given online assignments via mobile phone. Sometimes they studied via Zoom meetings," said Rahmawati, the mother of a kindergarten student. "For me, it’s not conducive, as my kid had fewer things to explore and lack of socialization with his friends."

The World Bank drew on its experience in Indonesia and throughout the region to rebuild and rehabilitate structures so that they can better withstand future shocks. In Cianjur, the project used guidelines developed during a reconstruction project in Central Sulawesi, supported by the World Bank, following a 2018 earthquake and tsunami.

Following the 2018 disaster, the Central Sulawesi Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Project helped strengthen public facilities and build safer housing, in part by improving seismic performance and safety of structures in the region. That experience can be replicated—and improved.

“We built on our lessons learned,” said Shinsaku Nomura, a senior economist at the Education Global Practice in the World Bank. “That’s why we were able to act very quickly—we had confidence in using those guidelines to rehabilitate and reconstruct religious schools through the project we support.”

In Cianjur, teachers and administrators say building conditions are better, the rehabilitated madrasahs are more resilient to natural disaster, and students are safer than before the earthquake.

“We recently had another earthquake. It was quite shaky, around 4.1 magnitude,” said Hari Suherman, an elementary madrasah principal. “Thank God, there was no damage to the building after the incident. So, this means this school is more resistant to earthquakes now.”

Rapid response, grander scale

One key component of the project includes block grants to private madrasahs overseen by the Ministry of Religious Affairs. After the earthquake, the Bank project is prepared to apply this experience to support another 1,700 classrooms across the country, including buildings that were damaged by previous natural disasters, neglected, or altogether abandoned.

“We are ready to scale up the support to more madrasahs needing heavy rehabilitation of school buildings,” Nomura said. “Having this system, guidelines, and these examples means a lot.”

More broadly, the Bank's Realizing Education’s Promise project is underpinning government efforts to improve outcomes for primary and secondary students at religious schools.

The project includes implementation of an electronic budgeting system and grants to schools; development and introduction of a national assessment for fourth graders; professional development for teachers and school administrators; and improving the availability and quality of education data.

The program so far has trained more than 153,000 teachers and education personnel. By the end of this year, about 11.6 million students are expected to benefit from direct interventions to enhance learning.

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Hazards Earthquake
Country and region Indonesia
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