PUSKAPA was established in early 2010 in Universitas Indonesia, through a collaboration between FISIP Universitas Indonesia, Columbia University, and BAPPENAS (the Ministry of National Development Planning). Everyone involved in the establishment of this Center wanted to contribute to closing the gaps between knowledge and practice in the field of child protection and wellbeing in Indonesia.
Now PUSKAPA works to help policy makers improve children's access to health, education, justice, and social protection. It pursues its goals through research to generate scientific evidence necessary to formulate durable solutions to inequities affecting the wellbeing of children, and through promoting ways to protect the most vulnerable by way of policy advocacy, program design, trial, and evaluations. PUSKAPA is also invested in building the capacity of researchers and practitioners through the provision of graduate-degree training, thematic methodology and programmatic trainings, and mentoring program. Through all that, PUSKAPA tries to consistently situate children, families, and community wellbeing within the context of key national concerns including economic development, social protection, and sustainability.
“PUSKAPA has shown that there is no gap between science and reality. Knowledge produced should not be contained in academic space, but should be further applied in practice through mediums such as training and programmatic recommendations to improve the wellbeing of children in Indonesia. PUSKAPA’s holistic approach to problem-solving and its strength in interdisciplinary network and partners at national, regional, and global level has made PUSKAPA one of the most prolific and unique research centers in the field of child protection in Indonesia. Onwards, PUSKAPA!”
Since beginning its transition to democracy in 1998, Indonesia has institutionalized peaceful elections and stable governments, and survived frequent large-scale natural disasters as well as a number of economic crises. We have achieved lower-middle income status and managed to maintain a steady annual economic growth rate of an average 5%.
Despite this growth, however, poverty and weak government service delivery remain the country’s biggest problems. According to data in 2011, more than 96 million individuals are still living in the poorest households, 25 million of whom are children. With close to 113 million people under the age of 25, youth unemployment in Indonesia is one of the highest in the Asia-Pacific region. Indonesia’s PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) score is still the second lowest in participating countries, indicating that despite the massive investment, the education system is going nowhere. So, not only does Indonesia suffer high unemployment, but the existing workforce is poorly prepared to contribute to the economy. More than half of the workforce has not gone beyond elementary school, and less than 20% has graduated from junior high school and high school.
These numbers highlight the role of poor government service delivery in contributing to poverty. What is more, about half of children in Indonesia don’t have legal identity documents, making them practically invisible. This invisibility has created a broad category of vulnerable citizens around the country. An estimated 2 to 3 million Indonesian women and children fall victims to abuse and exploitation every year. Numerous alarming cases of child labor, child marriage, and even female genital mutilation continue to limit children’s development and future opportunities.
Smart investment and an effective strategy to overcome child adversity are required more than ever. The health and safe development of more than 87 million Indonesian children today will shape Indonesia’s development potential tomorrow - from a stronger labor market to increased productivity. To pave the way to increase children’s capacity, we should equip them with quality social, financial, health, and livelihoods capabilities. Investing in children at the earliest stage possible is critical for future economic growth that will allow the country’s population to continue on an upward human development trend.