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Graffiti teaches Jakarta street kids
Helen Brown reports.

A group of creative Jakarta volunteers are using graffiti to help teach street children who are missing out on regular school.
KESHA WEST, PRESENTER: For the street children of Jakarta school comes a poor second to making money for their families. They can often be seen on the roadside, jumping into the traffic asking for money to sing or play an instrument at some of the cities grimiest spots.

Now a group of young creative Jakarta residents has come up with an idea to bring school to them using graffiti art.

Indonesia correspondent Helen Brown has the story.

(Footage of children at

HELEN BROWN, REPORTER: It's hot and dusty and smelly, a bare patch of land under a motorway in busy Jakarta. But for today, for these children, it is a school.

MALE STUDENT (subtitled): It's good. I can learn here and get the best knowledge.

TRANSLATOR (subtitled): What's your dream?

MALE STUDENT (subtitled): I want to be an architect or a football player.

FEMALE STUDENT (subtitled): I am happy.

TRANSLATOR (subtitled): Why?

FEMALE STUDENT (subtitled): I can learn and become smarter.

HELEN BROWN: Every Sunday, a local charity creates a school in the dirt, bringing books, boards and volunteers to some of Jakarta's most impoverished children. And for two hours, while the traffic roars over and around them, they study.

QUIRINA NOVIANTY, SAHABAT ANAK: Most of them go to the formal school. But there are kids that they really live in the street and they have, sometimes they have no family and they just join with other family. And they live really on the street and they don't go to school.

(Footage of street children plays)

HELEN BROWN: Around 7,300 children live precarious lives on the streets, helping their families make some kind of living or doing it on their own. For some, it's a daily task to beg, busk and scavenge rubbish.

They live in a tough environment and even this makeshift classroom is defined by concrete walls that are marked with the graffiti of street tags.

(Footage of graffiti artist working plays)

But now there's also something else. Many of the walls have been turned into educational art, transformed by some of the best from the street art community, who've created huge murals that it's hoped will teach and inspire.

FELICIA HUTABARAT, GRAFFITEACH: They didn't know about mathematics before and then the English alphabet. All the subjects that we teach them gives them a glimpse of knowledge, and then they looking for it.

HELEN BROWN: The idea to combine art and school together on the streets came from this office, when a group of colleagues from an advertising agency wondered if their social cause could be to help the many street children they saw on the way to and from work every day.

RONNY PRATAMA, GRAFFITEACH: It's perfect the idea of the street kids and how they're actually stay on the street and then the graffiti artists will actually do their stuff on the street as well, so why can't we just combine it together?

(Footage of promo video for Graffiteach plays. TITLE: Bringin' education to the streets. Graffiteach, teachin' the streets ....)

HELEN BROWN: The group, called Graffititeach, works with non profit organisations to pick locations and topics and has convinced their artist friends to come on board.

ENO RUGE, GRAFFITI ARTIST (translation): Actually I like the idea more helping street kids to go back to school. I lived on the street too. I'm proud to be part of Graffititeach. I feel, it's hard to explain, I'm just proud that the kids like it and they want to know more.

HELEN BROWN: For graphic designer and artist Eno Ruge, using graffiti for education rather than rebellion is an unexpected change. But the project is actually scourging the law.

(Footage of Graffiteach graffiti is shown)

The works aren't officially sanctioned and graffiti is considered an act of vandalism.

So far, though, no one has tried to stop them.

FELICIA HUTABARAT: People on the street, they're passing by cars they all give a thumbs up, even the police working in the street.

RONNY PRATAMA: The policemen ask us 'what is this, what are you doing?' And we say 'this is for education for the street children and all', and they were like, 'oh good, you can continue what you're doing.'

HELEN BROWN: Fifteen murals have been completed so far. And so well has the concept been received that there are plans to take it outside of Jakarta, to Indonesia's other big cities where street kids need a helping hand.

(Footage of children learning at Graffiteach school)

But there are many hurdles to changing lives. In the meantime, Jakarta's young citizens do what they can to make a difference in their challenging, bustling city.
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