Continuing the ride into Jakarta, I have the privilege not only to see more of the city, but to learn more about It as well, thanks to the wise and patient guide I am driving with.
I ask him about the education system in Indonesia, which is good he says in Jakarta at least. Here the public schools are free and of good quality, whereas there are private school for which you have to pay of course as well. But the free public education gives at least everyone the opportunity to study, and the ones with good marks, but no money can apply for scholarships. The basics of education = free education. ‘And people prefer the government schools,’ he says, because of the good quality as well. In addition elementary (6years) and high school (6 years) are obligatory, after one can choose to go to academy or university of start working right away.
That is one part, but housing in Jakarta is problematic. Housing prices are high, and especially with the high demand – high influx of entire Indonesia and abroad – the prices are on the rise. ‘A family with a normal job, cannot afford a house in Jakarta. They have to live out of Jakarta, and they will have to pay 20 years on a mortgage. They work to buy food and that is all. No more than food,’ he explains. In addition, there are many people living with an entire family – mother, father, and two children – in a room of 4 by 5 metres only. Housing isn’t fair in Jakarta.
And while he talks about the housing topic, we pass huge shopping malls with Louis Vuitton and other brands which we cannot afford for sure, and even if I could, I wouldn’t. Yet, the contrast is huge, the inequality in Jakarta is enormous. Moreover, the next day when I will be walking in the city, I walk from the old city part with its wonderful old colonial houses two blocks further to the slums, where the smell of garbage and open sewage is the only border between old and rich. Houses are small, not even 2 meters wide, and 1 or maybe 1 and a half floor high, while the kitchen is outside, next to the pile of garbage. So here is where it all goes to? I remember last night on the middle of the square of the old town, there was a lady picking up the empty cups and plastic bags that people had left behind while watching the concert. For sure, I can find that empty cup here again.