This article has been published in Enabling Education Review 7
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My experience of bullying in Indonesia

My name is Keanu Arya Banendra. I attended inclusive primary school, at Karanganyar Public School, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

The first time I went to the school, many students who saw me were surprised because I was the only child who used a wheelchair. During the school assembly, there was one student asked me, “Why are you in a wheelchair?” Another child asked if I fell or if I had an accident. I replied, “This is because I had a disease when I was young”.

I then joined a separate class in the school. In Year 1 there were 5 students in this special class: Zaki, Rozan, Fiara, Novan, and me. When the lesson started, Zaki sat behind me kicking my wheelchair, and we were joking. From then on we were friends. During recess Fiara was sitting next to me, I offered her my lunch because she kept looking at it. We shared food and right then we became friends.

Next, for the religion lesson, we had to join the regular class because there was a special teacher for religion. In this lesson a student mocked me “Hahahaha, big ears and strange shape.” His name is Bowo, and I replied, “Is it a problem for you? Everyone has strengths and weaknesses”, I replied. He then went silent.

For a few years Fiara, Zaki and I were friends. We played together and helped each other, for example when Fiara or Zaki found difficulty in learning I would help them and if I needed help to buy food, Fiara and Zaki would give me a hand. We were always together. Fiara and I were very sad when in Year 4 Zaki moved to a different school, so we had to split up.

A year went by, Fiara and I remained friends. One day there was a student from the regular class who wanted to befriend us. His name is Azis. We too wanted to be his friend.

Several months passed by, my dream finally came true, that is being acknowledged by everyone that I am the same as everyone else. Only my physical is different. I was moved to the regular class. Students in the regular class were not familiar with me, but over time they began to get to know me. For example, they began to help me to get out of the class or help me buy food. Fiara came to visit me in each recess to accompany me. Azis too often help me.

But one day his attitude changed drastically. He began to take my money by force, and if I did not want to give my money, he beat me. After months, I could not stand it anymore, so I reported his behaviour to my teacher. Azis was called and advised that if he did it again, he would be expelled from school. After that incident, Azis did not help me anymore, but I still remained kind to Azis, and I forgave him.

Without realising, Fiara and I were no longer close as before. We never talked when we met. I think she felt neglected because I was focused on the regular class and forgot that I had a best friend in the separate class.

One day during the second recess Azis bought some porridge. Azis wanted to approach me but in front of the door were two boys who were bullies. Other students are afraid of them, but I am not, because to me they are just like any other students. Azis sat down beside me eating his porridge. The bullies went straight to Azis, hit him and challenged him to a duel. Azis cried. I felt guilty because I couldn’t do anything.

From my experiences of making friends in school, I wish that there was no bullying in the school environment. Not only in school but also in any neighbourhood. My message is: stop bullying.

Keanu Arya Banendra, Indonesia


Bullying affects education

The only thing that will stop me from going to school is bullying and discrimination. It really hurts when you go to school where you feel different in some way and where some of the students try to intimidate you, through inflicting fear through oppressions like discriminations and bullying. I think nobody will feel comfortable going to school like this. Sometimes the bullying and discrimination might not only be from our peers but also from other people like teachers. In such situations I will stop going to school, because instead of enjoying my life at school and creating beautiful memories with the people I meet, I will just live my whole school life in fear. I’d rather stop going to the school or opt to shift to a different school in the hope of a new start.

Stella Martin, International Citizen Service return volunteer, age 25, Tanzania


How does it feel to be bullied?

In this image Jacob, who is dyslexic, describes his experiences of being in a non-inclusive classroom: how his classmates did not support him and how the school did not educate the other children to understand that some learners have difficulty with reading and writing and need to be supported.

Jacob Sunder Singh, age 13, India