Instilling Literacy Seed in the East Horizon of Cendrawasih Land
Sota District, Merauke, Papua — It took about 90 minutes for us to arrive at Sota District from the center of Merauke Regency. The area is located at the southern tip of Papua which is directly adjacent to Papua New Guinea. We crossed Wasor National Park area, which is full of eucalyptus trees, the raw material for eucalyptus oil. The sky that was getting dark, cloudy accompanied most of the trip.
Upon arrival at the border entrance gate in Sota District, Kab. Merauke, a group consisting of Director of National Library, Education, Library, and Archives Service of Papua, and Library and Archives Service of Merauke Regency, was crowned with cassowary feathers and a Noken sash by local traditional leaders. Welcome dance accompanying our steps to inspect the location of Digital Reading Corner (Pocadi) at Zero Kilometer Merauke-Sabang point.
Head of Indonesian Border Agency, Merauke, Elias Mite, said that this area is used to be called cross-country post (PLN), but since President Jokowi's era it has been replaced by cross-border post (PLBN).
The PLBN area should have been inaugurated by President Jokowi in April 2020. COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed this plan. However, efforts to spread reading fondness and literacy viruses continued. Not giving up on pandemic conditions.
In Sota District area, there are many economic potentials from the use of eucalyptus trees which can be used as eucalyptus oil. However, processing and packaging are still inadequate, causing the flagship product of Sota people to not be widely known.
Not only the potency of eucalyptus oil. The flavor-giving plant, Vanilla, also thrives here. Once again, the same problem becomes an obstacle. They have not maximally socialised their products.
In Sota District, each house is provided with half a hectare of land to plant vanilla plants. A total of 20 hectares is earmarked for this crop. Limited knowledge resulted in output of both flagship commodities of Sota District is less well-known in the market. Elias Mite hopes that Pocadi's presence will be able to provide a new spirit for insights and knowledge development of border communities. As directed by Minister of Home Affairs Tito Karnavian, the border area as a support zone can become one of the border tourist destinations.
"We hope that Pocadi's existence can also provide reading space for children in this area. We really lack reading material in all border districts, both on land and sea," said Elias Mite in front of Director of National Library of Indonesia while inspecting Pocadi location in PLBN Sota District, Merauke Regency, Wednesday (28/10).
Responding to what was conveyed by Head of Border Agency, Director of National Library, Muhammad Syarif Bando said that our presence did not bring money or projects. We offer knowledge accessibility via Pocadi on the border. Therefore, National Library of Indonesia invites all stakeholders to think together what contributions can be synergised so that insights, knowledge, and scholarly knowledge of the people here can develop.
"Pocadi is not just a reading tool. The most important thing now and later on is to think creatively to be more beneficial. Make more money from economic potential of the people here. As long as there is a will, God willing, there is a way. In fact, it can export it to a number of countries that need eucalyptus oil or vanilla," explained Director of National Library.
The presence of a library with a new paradigm, which is no longer merely managing a collection of reading materials but also conveying knowledge (knowledge transfer), is highly believed to be able to bring a more prosperous society.
Many examples of the success of social inclusion-based library transformation programme are felt by the community. From this programme, library fills the spaces of people's lives with a collection of readings on applied science (soft skills) accompanied by mentoring and tutorials so that they are easy to implement.
"Here (Sota District, red) has a very large area of land. With the economic choice that has been decided, we will try it together. Reading collection at library opens up opportunities for anyone to become entrepreneurial," added Syarif Bando.
Not only from the potential for eucalyptus oil or vanilla plants, Sota District people can use the land for terrestrial and aquatic animal breeding. Director of National Library is certain that in good knowledge and methods, it has the potential to provide economic value as well.
"So, let's start to get used to reading. The world is changing rapidly because people are actively reading. Through this habit, literacy can grow and develop which in turn has a welfare impact on society."
Closing the visit in Sota, Director of National Library was accompanied by Head of Education, Library and Archives Office of Papua Christian Sohilait, Head of Library and Archives Service of Merauke Regency, Police Chief of Sota, and Border Area Security Task Force, symbolically handed over Pocadi's facilities and infrastructure assistance to Head of Sota District, Yuliastri Karim.
After visiting Sota, Director of National Library's work visit continued to Kurik District to see the library success portrait in maximising the potential of Salor Indah village people.
Kurik District is one of the largest rice-producing areas in Merauke Regency. This district, along with five other districts which are projected as new Merauke Regency replacing Merauke Regency which will change its status to Municipal. Kurik District is predicted to be a candidate for the new capital in Merauke Regency.
Arriving at Kurik, Director of National Library was greeted by District Head Prasetyo Adi Cahyo and Police Chief of Kurik Gatot. Adi Cahyo then said that library/smart park building used to be a Village Unit Cooperative (KUD) building. It was then sold, then grew using Village Fund. The new Salor Indah Library has 150 books. Even so, Salor Indah Library has succeeded in creating red ginger products, chips, and embal, even though it is packaged very simply.
This success prompted Director of National Library of Indonesia, who then provided a number of aids in the form of reading material collections and a set of computers so that knowledge accessibility is easily obtained.
"The presence of a library is to answer the challenges of a changing world. Libraries will continue to be a bridge of knowledge of the past, present, and future," said Syarif Bando.
From the benefits of libraries, people can get various references and insights from books.
The analogy is when humans live for a year, then plant crops. If you live for ten years, then plant fruit trees. However, if you live to build people, then you build knowledge.
"Knowledge from school to college is not more than 15 percent. The rest, is obtained through books and life experiences. We in the future are what we read today," concluded Director of National Library of Indonesia ending his work visit to Bumi Anim Ha (real human).
Then a bow of rainbows appeared, accompanying the galloping of our vehicle back to bed.