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G.E.P. in Indonesia - The Need

G.E.P.'s Indonesia Division was established in 1999 in the town of Wonosari, on the central island of Java. In the 1960's, 70's and 80's, Indonesia's economy grew steadily, and the government made strong investments in education. Education levels, literacy and employment were above average for a developing country. However, the 1998 economic crisis cancelled out much of this development. Three decades of progress had been wiped out overnight, as the Indonesian Rupiah fell to less than 15% of its former value against the US dollar. Indonesians have suffered a sudden decline in their standard of living. For example, a high-school teacher who was making $137 per month must now support his family with $34, while inflation soars and salary freezes destroy any hope of a raise.

Indonesian schools are hard-pressed to maintain their previous standards. The government still provides some basic, "compulsory" texts, but these are inadequate and in poor condition. The materials needed by both students and teachers are in short supply. Computer training in high schools - essential for employment in a shrinking job market - is severely limited. Communities and schools used to government subsidies are now searching for ways to cope with the situation.

There is a textbook shortage, which affects both class participation and lesson planning. Prices for such books are well beyond the average family's budget. Texts provided by the government - which teachers say are insufficient - are already in decreasing supply.

Computer facilities for high-school students are so limited as to be virtually non-existent. The few students with computer access are merely exposed to old software with no commercial application.

High-school graduates often need to take private computer courses before they can find high-end jobs. These courses cost about 50% of an average worker's wages - an impossible expense for most Indonesians.

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