The Three Rs, – Reading, (W) riting and Rotary!

I am sure that 99.9% of readers of the Bali Advertiser, experienced an education whereby monetary payment was not an issue? From Playschool or kindergarten to primary and secondary education it was free and there was no escape!! Or do I hear a few murmurs?

“I played truant, / I wagged it”??? But ultimately those pranks ended in being caught and “punishment “duly meted out! School was a full day, 9-3.30 or 4, depending on where you lived, could have started earlier but basically a 6-7 hour day.

What did you wear? –school uniform? Both girls and boys were subjected to it, girls in dresses that looked like sacks, pinafores, blouses/ties- ugh!! Long socks , sensible lace up shoes/ PE/sports clothes, navy bloomers, shorts, blouses, no matter what the weather or your state of health – there was no escaping. The boys were no better off with knee length shorts, shirts, ties, sensible shoes, and PE/sports clothes. What about winter, for those of us brought up in colder climates? Woollen jumpers, thick undergarments, hats, gloves, scarfs, coats – you could hardly move!

We took for granted school text books/ jotters/books to borrow/ books for homework, with parents only providing stationery requirements. We completed secondary education to between 16 and 18 depending on your exam results! Next step further education- University, college, traineeship, vocational training, armed forces etc. But now there is a monetary cost- there is transport to and from facilities; student accommodation, text books, maybe uniforms, extra clothes, “pocket money” etc.!

“So you want to study”? “Well you better get out there and get a job in your spare time, don’t expect us to pay it all”!! Sound familiar, I bet it does!

Living in the UK/Australia/Canada/USA finding a part time job was fairly easy. Even though we were instructed /ordered to work to subsidise the costs, our parents at least one of them would be working, and not see our further education jeopardised.

Emphasis “Education = Job= Future prosperity”

Now where is all this leading? To the Third R = Rotary!!

Rotary clubs are International and many have “Education” as one of their primary projects. Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset, a small but very active club, our main focuses are supporting schools, health and hygiene, and water for the Balinese people. We find and help communities and families where help is most needed.

The Education system in Bali is not free, and for many the monetary costs is prohibitive, so many children just do not go to school. Before a child can go to school they require a full backpack comprising: 4 school uniforms (this applies all over the island) – regular, batik, sports and scouts, each uniform comprising several pieces. 1 pair school shoes.

School supplies- pens/pencils/ coloured pencils/ruler/eraser/ jotters for language and numeracy, text books, drawing book. All of which have to be replaced periodically. Add on water bottles/ lunch boxes, filled each day! Then there may be additional financial costs depending on the school –teacher’s fees, extra class fees, building fees. As the child progresses through school grades the costs increase, and middle and high school become even more prohibitive. Going to University a child either needs sponsorship or parents who are financially able to pay. With practically no Government assistance how are the people to manage? Many live on a day to day basis, earnings can be as low as 1 Million RP = $100 a year!!

I mentioned at the beginning, that many of us would remember getting an evening/weekend job to help pay our further education. That too is not an option here, there does not exist those kind of opportunities and for many families especially those living in the high mountainous areas , it is hard enough for an adult to get work.

So this is where our 3rd R –Rotary comes in, with sponsorship of many educational projects. A proposal will be submitted, with full details of cost, who will benefit and ongoing sustainability. It can be from a member of any Rotary club or other organisation, and this is discussed by the Project committee and if they consider it viable will put it to the vote of members. Then funding has to be found- this could come from our funds, District or Global Grants or even from a joint project with another Rotary club.

The Roteracts- the 18-30 branch of Rotary are young people working hard, often with their focus on schools/education especially primary school level. In Ubud there is a very active Roteract Club of Ubud, with many education projects, with Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset assisting with the funding. They have a mobile library initiative whereby funding assists with the provision of books for libraries, writing material , paper and pens for primary school children. Library areas – shelves, seating, pleasant environment, are set up . As little as US$ 650.00 can provide writing material and pencils for about 1,500 students! So if 10 people donated US$65 each think of the benefits!!

This project is also taken to remote areas where again reading books and stationery are supplied to the schools. These schools are in an even direr situation as they are so isolated and poor, unable to access let alone purchase these items.

The Roteracts have since the evacuation of people due to the activity of Gunung Agung, commenced a project to teach children at evacuation centres in Sukawati. In co-operation with the UNMAS University they are running a 3 month project every Friday morning. They are teaching the children English, reading and fun activities and helping to keep the children focused.

Other organisations may approach a Rotary club requesting funding or sponsorship. Bali Children’s Project is one such organisation who provide sponsorship for children from elementary right through to University level. Bali Children’s Project requested monetary help form Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset; and they have recently thanked us for the support of their school sponsorship programme. 20 students can now go to school and are funded for 1 year. Without this funding – US$2,000, those 20 students would not be going to school! Of course there are many children on the waiting list and like all “yayasans” (NGO) are constantly appealing for funding!

Education is not just about the 3 “Rs”, it also encompasses health and hygiene education just as important as reading, ( w) riting, and (a) rithmetic! If we do not have healthy children then there will not be healthy adults and for the island to move forward and grow there is so much education needed….

If you feel you could contribute/help or just donate, our small but very friendly club meets twice a month in Ubud. You are very welcome to come along as a “visitor” enjoy social interaction, a drink or a meal , listen/ask questions, and you just never know….this may be for you!


Please email : for times/ dates/ locations and contacts. I thank you for taking the time to read this article,

Written by Renee Heaton, member Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset.

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