Children in juvenile prisons need IT help, too

Story of service • Indonesia • June 2012


IBM volunteers in Indonesia work
on IT skills training with young
inmates at Tangerang Juvenile
Prison in Jakarta.
Volunteers from IBM Indonesia are making a difference by teaching IT skills to children who are confined in juvenile detention facilities. The children, ranging in age from 12 to 18 years, have been convicted of crimes and must spend up to five years in a juvenile prison or rehabilitation center.

As Santi Diansari Sarino, Senior Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs Specialist explained, “The juvenile prisoners have to prepare for their future after their detention period ends. They deserve to get the same chance to receive IT training as other children do. This ‘IBM Cares’ project is a good opportunity for IBM Indonesia volunteers to share their IT knowledge.”

The first event, held in February 2012, was requested by the Director General of Corrections at the Tangerang Juvenile Prison in Jakarta, after he read about IBM volunteer activities with different groups of children. IBM collaborated with the Indonesian Lawyer Association to teach 220 young inmates, divided into 10 classes with 10 IBM volunteers in each class. Each volunteer was responsible for two or three children. IBM Indonesia County General Manager Suryo Suwignjo opened the session saying, “IBM dedicated its expertise and technical resources to tackle complex issues faced by the education world. And here we are with 100 IBMers to share IT learning in Tangerang Juvenile Prison.”

The IBM volunteers began by sharing about themselves and asked each student to discuss their interests and hobbies. In three hours, they taught the students how to create a document with a word processor using Lotus Notes Symphony, how to use the Internet to find information with Google, and how to explore Facebook and Twitter. Each volunteer used their own ThinkPad to teach these skills.

When asked to create a letter on the laptop, one of the students wrote an official letter to the President of the Republic of Indonesia telling him how grateful he is to have had the opportunity to learn about IT, and added that perhaps if he had not made the mistakes that put him in jail, he might never have had this opportunity in his entire lifetime.

By the last 15 minutes of the session, all the children were actively engaged and asking questions. When the guards gave the sign that time was up, most of the juvenile prisoners were requesting, “Can we have some more IT lessons please? Please IBM?” The volunteers asked the guards to extend their time for another half hour and, as a result, saw many happy faces. They plan to return at a later date with another set of IT topics.

Rakha Siswara, one of the IBM volunteers at the Tangerang Juvenile Prison, said, “This was a positive experience for me, helping me understand that not all children receive a proper education like I did. We were able to be proactive, teach them new skills, listen to their problems and discuss what they want to achieve in the future. Hopefully, the little thing we did can make a big positive change for them in the future. I am gladly willing to join in another program in the future.”

The dedication of IBM volunteers is not limited to one facility in Jakarta. A second similar IT training program was held in April in Makassar in a children’s rehabilitation center run by the Ministry of Social Affairs and plans are underway to offer the program at a center in Bali at the end of 2012.

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