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Access to inclusive and quality education for all is one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With the belief that education is an important driver towards sustainable development, SDG 4 aims to ensure that every person will have access to primary and secondary school by 2030.

Syahzidah Afdilla Lubis almost did not get the opportunity to achieve this. He was devastated when he faced the fact that he would not be continuing his education at the senior high school level, because his family couldn't afford it.

In a bid to improve his family’s economic situation, Syahzidah decided to work as a janitor at Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP). Then good news arrived for Syahzidah, when the company started an ‘Equivalent Education Program’ for its employees.

Under the program, RAPP employees receive the opportunity to complete informal elementary, junior high and upper high education, through classes which are held two or three times a week.

The classes are run by RAPP’s partner, non-government organization Yayasan Kerinci Cinta Kasih (YKCK), in collaboration with the Pelalawan Regency Education Department. Participants take part in a ‘Packet A’ program (for elementary level classes), ‘Packet B’ program (junior high school level), or ‘Packet C’ program (upper high school level).

Then, participants can take national Computer-Based Tests (CBT) which are held by the Ministry of Education twice a year. If they pass, they receive certificates which are equivalent to qualifications acquired through formal schooling.

“I am very excited to study and obtain a certificate equivalent to a high school certificate. Through RAPP’s program, I will not waste the opportunity and will study earnestly.

“Fortunately, I am able to divide my time, so I can still work and study. I work Monday to Friday, while weekends are for school,” said Syahzidah.

After this, 22-year-old Syahzidah wants to pursue his education at the university level. He also wants to eventually climb the ranks at RAPP.

“I want to improve my career as well as my family’s economic situation. Age isn’t a problem for me, when it comes to going back to school,” he said.

Another program participant, Tarifman Laia, experienced a similar situation. Tight finances meant Tariman was unable to finish his education at the junior high school level. To make ends meet, he had to find work as a day laborer at the Kerinci Central Nursery (KCN) owned by RAPP.

However, with RAPP’s ‘Packet B’ program, 18-year-old Tarifman will soon be able to achieve his goal of having a recognized education certificate.

“I, along with 13 of my friends, am very grateful for RAPP’s support towards us achieving our educational qualifications. With it, I hope I will no longer be a burden to my parents,” said Tarifman.

“After this, I want to continue on to the ‘Packet C’ program. I want to continue my education so that my life can change for the better,” he added.

Bey Soo Khiang, RGE Group Vice-Chairman, has previously said that education is the key to improving the quality of society, and RGE will therefore continue to support its employees in their further studies.

He also said that everyone should have the same opportunity to develop their potential – not just students, but also company employees. It is with this belief in mind that the pulp and paper company assists employees as well as surrounding communities to never stop learning.

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