It is no secret that a good education has the power to change a life. That is why Sukanto Tanoto, the Founder and Chairman of Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) views education as crucial and through the Tanoto Foundation he founded, he strives to help everyone gain equal access to education. In particular, the development of education in rural areas.

The lagging quality of education in rural areas as compared to urban areas occurred in various aspects, from the quality to the educational facilities, to the quality of lessons, education levels in the villages were still lagging behind. This made the Tanoto Foundation embark on multiple efforts and they carried out comprehensive education development efforts in the villages.

They rolled out a programme called Early Childhood Education, which is carried out with a view to improving the quality of early childhood education centres. The target is not limited to only urban or rural areas, however the Foundation placed emphasis in underdeveloped village areas, especially in the Provinces of Jambi, North Sumatra and Riau.

The Foundation sought to improve the competencies of teachers and school caregivers by providing training and national teacher certification. They rolled out training programmes to improve the competency of teachers and caregivers at early childhood education centres (PAUD Programme). The training included the stages of child development, techniques for educating children with special needs, and understanding of nutrition.

Tanoto Foundation also ran a programme to support partner school stakeholders in creating a safe and conducive school environment called Pelita ASRI in rural areas. The aim of this programme is to create and maintain a safe, clean and healthy learning environment at school. They renovated classrooms, and provided the furniture and classroom equipment. They also built toilets and installed clean water supplies.

The Foundation also raised awareness about the personal hygiene of students and teachers, and also invited students, teachers and the community to care about environmental sustainability. This programme was proven to be effective as most students in North Sumatra, Jambi and Riau, supported by the Tanoto Foundation, claimed they were able to change their habits and become healthier.

Meanwhile, to improve the quality of teachers, the Tanoto Foundation rolled out a programme to improve teaching skills, called Pelita Guru Mandiri. Through this activity, teachers were trained to apply the teachings of high quality, effective, and fun learning process for students, both inside and outside the classroom.

Teachers were taught a variety of topics, such as the development and application of contextual learning, collaborative learning between teachers and students, and classroom management. In order to maintain teacher quality, the Tanoto Foundation made regular visits to schools for direct observation and refresher training.

The Foundation also ran the Pelita Pustaka programme to set up school libraries and to foster good reading habits and encourage students’ interest in reading. Activities were conducted ranging from renovating the library, donating books and collections, to training and managing teachers. These programmes run by the Sukanto Tanoto Foundation were implemented to improve the quality of education in rural areas, because Sukanto Tanoto knew the importance of education. This was his way of giving the rural poor a chance for a better future.