In-Kind Rice Payments
Nothing says ‘Indonesia’ more than my teachers getting paid in-part in rice. As a part of their monthly salary, all teachers at my school receive 10kg of rice – packaged (and presumably) harvested locally. This amount of rice costs about Rp 80,000 and will feed a family of four for about two weeks. To show the value of this rice payment, cash salaries at my school range from around Rp 600,000 per month as non-civil servants, to around Rp 2,500,000 per month as civil servants, and as much as Rp 10,000,000 per month as a senior staff member.
Rice day can’t be missed at my school. A large dump-truck pulls up to our school and backs through the gates. It proceeds to back up to the basketball court. From there, about forty bags – one for each of the teachers at my school – is unloaded, carried across the court, and stacked inside the school co-op. During school hours, the teachers come to the co-op, sign a roster, and carry their rice to their motorcycle. At the end of the day, they balance the package on their lap, at their feet, or on the back of their bike to go home.
Rice to Indonesians is the staple of all staples. Indonesia ranks in the top 10 in rice consumption per capita, but this in-kind payment is still unusual. I have asked other volunteers about rice payments, and it appears that the contemporary practice is unique to my school.