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In Indonesia, a country where free or even universal education is not provided by the government, street children are mainly the product of parents who tragically live under the poverty line and cannot afford to send their children to school. Many children from such families are forced to go to the streets or take on other dangerous and unhealthy work to support their families, and thereby forfeiting their own right to an education and missing out on the chance to improve their lot in life.

The situation worsened during the Indonesian economic crisis in the late 1990s that saw a change of government for the first time in over 30 years, but no improvements in the living standards and opportunities of millions of poor families. In fact, more and more children have been forced into streets and the number is increasing, reaching 60,000 children by the end of 1999 (20,000 of those in Jakarta), and this number continues to rise (USAID report, 1999). Many families experienced sudden decreases in income due to the crisis and this has not turned around since then. These families are at the greatest risk of sending their children onto the streets and forcing them to leave school as the need to save money and the need for increased family income grows.

In spite of the dreams, abilities, skills, intelligence, creativity and motivation of these children, they will have very little or no education and consequently they will have very limited chances to get out of the cycle of poverty their families and communities are in. This doesn’t only result in personal tragedy and wasted resources, but the wider impacts on society in terms of stability, racial and religious harmony, political tolerance and crime are great.

All of these considerations have triggered several long-term European residents of Indonesia to partner with concerned Indonesians to form ISCO in 1999, as independent organization, non political and has no religious affiliations. It was formed based on the pure desire to give hope and practical help to children whose families are in extremely dire conditions of poverty, and who are vulnerable to becoming street children.

ISCO Foundation (known as Yayasan ISCO in Indonesian) is a non-government organization, located in Jakarta, Indonesia, dedicated to improve the quality of life of street children through education. The main goal of ISCO is to help to improve the quality of life of these marginal communities and give them not only hope, but also the means, to change their futures for the better. To this end, ISCO’s main programs consist of providing scholarship and educational support for the children starting from pre-school until high school level, and in some cases where possible and feasible, until university level.

ISCO began helping children in the areas of Kampung Jembatan (Cipinang Besar Selatan/East Jakarta) and Manggarai (South Jakarta), where children were forced to work on the streets, and often dropped out of school because their parents could not afford the fees and other expenses.

ISCO works together with local school authorities and formal and informal community leaders to identify the neediest families, to arrange for the children to attend public school, to support them and their families in many practical ways and to make sure that these children will not become street children or child laborers.

Beginning in 1999 by sponsoring 50 children in two areas of Jakarta, today ISCO operates in 26 areas – 17 in Greater Jakarta, 7 in Surabaya and 2 in Medan. Around 1,785 children are currently sponsored, most of whom are between the ages of 5 and 17 years. ISCO monitors each child educational development progress individually and maintains a close relationship with each family.

ISCO’s particular focus is the children of those families, who face serious obstacles in their struggle to achieve the productive futures that are accepted as normal by most middle class families. ISCO believes that all children deserve the chance to achieve their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens and leaders of Indonesia.
We invite you find out more at this web site about our programs, our children’s achievements and how you can help.

Providing free education for vulnerable street children is a proven and effective method of protecting these children’s rights. The poor, and working children, should not suffer any discrimination in learning opportunities (World Declaration on Education for All, 1990).


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