The Development of West Papua in the Reformation Era

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As one of the developing nations in the world, Indonesia always makes an attempt to develop all of the areas in the country into the equal amounts, while concerning about the people’s needs as well as the impact of development to the particular area. The same rule also applies to West Papua. Similar to other islands in the archipelago, the easternmost island of Indonesia experiences changes and developments as well, especially in the reformation era like today.

It is important to mention that according to the Indonesian Ministry of National Development Planning, the holistic approach that formerly used as the development concept of West Papua will be changed into the cultural approach. The development is encouraged through four stages of developmental policy that include rescue, recovery, stabilization, and development.

Since the end of the New Order regime, Indonesia has developed several fields within the autonomy area of West Papua. The growth and change of the largest island in Indonesia include the following fields:

The Development of Education and Human Resources

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The most crucial issue regarding human resources in West Papua is the insufficiency of educated citizens. According to a survey, the most population of West Papua, approximately 79.4% of citizens in the productive age do not go on to the higher education like high school or the university.

For that reason, there are two primary concerns that are related to the development of human resources in West Papua. The first concern is associated with the education of Papua populations who are in their productive age groups. Meanwhile, the second one deals with the provision of vocation or job demands for the population with their related background education.

For the first subject, the government has developed several educational programs, from kindergarten to higher education levels. The program is realized through the placement of qualified teachers from other regions outside Papua. It is also supported by a number of local organizations that provide free educational and vocational training for Papuans.

Besides helping them to acquire the new ability and develop soft skills, those trainings are beneficial in preparing the human resources of Papua when they enter the real workplace or industrial sector. Regarding the preparation of vocational and professional sector, the Indonesian government also provides particular fields for Papuans in the application of public servants.

The Stabilization of Regional and Local Economy Sector

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The structure of local economy sector in West Papua relies greatly on the mining industry, farming sector, as well as commercial and service area. Those financial sectors are stabilized by the central government with the aim of giving a larger contribution to the national income. One of the effective strategies for the stabilization of economy sector is developing supporting infrastructure system, including roads, airports, harbors, as well as the building of industrial and special economy area.

Besides a number of economy sections that have been mentioned earlier, there are some other programs that are realized by the government to support the economic growth in West Papua. The programs include tourism development, especially in Raja Ampat region, the building of railroad in Sorong and Manokwari, as well as the development of Bintuni industrial area.

The Development of Infrastructure Systems and Services

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Compared to other regions in Indonesia, the infrastructure growth in West Papua is likely to be left behind. As a matter of fact, it is also one of the major factors that influence the development of the area of Papua as a whole. Infrastructure systems and services, including power and transport supplies, are indeed crucial for more effective work and flow of a region or a country.

Therefore, the repair and the building of roads in the area has become a strong and crucial urge in the development of West Papua. The infrastructure growth particularly focuses on several regions such as Tolikara, Paniai, and Boven Digoel that do not have the adequate service of road infrastructure, and as a result, those regions can only be accessed by air transportation.

In the last three years, the infrastructure of transportation in Papua has been developed through the building of Trans Papua Roadway. Moreover, the land transportation is also encouraged by the development of other infrastructure means such as the building of water treatment plant in Warsamson, as well as overpass bridges and ring road in Sorong.

In addition to the transportation system, another system that is not less important is the electricity system. Regarding this, the central government of Indonesia has targeted to supply the electricity in the whole area of Papua in order to make the citizens adapt easily and effectively to the developing infrastructure services.

The development in all sectors of the two easternmost provinces in Indonesia, Papua and West Papua, is still growing in the present times and will be gradually improved in the future. It is true that Papua poses real challenges in term of geographical, regional conflict, and socio-cultural sector. However, with a great potential of the provinces and a strong determination to develop the nation as a whole, the development of Papua in later times will be equal with other major regions within the Republic of Indonesia.