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The picture of Bintan changes once you travel beyond the entrance to the Bintan Resorts zone. The broad population has largely been left behind by developments in the tourist zones. This is especially true in the coastal areas where fishing is the main occupation and rising fuel costs, over-fishing, sea travel restrictions and lack of land-based skills have taken their toll on local incomes.
The objective of TIF’s Education & Literacy Program is to empower the coastal communities in the Riau Archipelago through targeted skills transfer, delivered by locals to create opportunities for economic and social success. Our strategy is two-fold: (a) To develop literacy programs in the heart of each Riau coastal community, with a target population of over 9,000 village adults and children. We are achieving this through setting up learning centers which offer free English and IT lessons (identified locally as two key skills required for economic success) as well as reading and cultural programs to develop creative writers, thinkers and a strong sense of identity among the children and youth. In July 2009, TIF started a literacy program by setting up a small learning center with donated computers and English/Bahasa books in the village of Teluk Bekau. Since then, five additional learning centers have been set-up in the villages of Berakit, Malang Rapat, Pengudang and Kawal. To power the education program, TIF is rolling out a bespoke curriculum developed by leading educationalist Dr. Diana Hicks and is working in close partnership with UWCSEA-East (Singapore) to enable the transfer of valuable knowledge and learning resources to the centers. (b) To help improve the quality of teaching and resources within the schools and raise awareness amongst parents of the advantages of keeping their children in school. This strategy is being achieved by organizing training workshops to introduce innovative teaching techniques that local teachers can use to enhance the learning process. In the past three years, TIF-organized teacher-training workshops have brought teachers from UWCSEA-East (Singapore) and Al Jabr Education Center (Jakarta) to train and connect with local schoolteachers as well as village parents.