"So if I am able to preserve this writing of mine…I would like you to give it the title 'House of Glass.'"

In-Kind Rice Payments

Stacked riceThere are still so many things I haven’t shared with you about Indonesia. I hope I can give you enough small tastes of my community to show you what it is like.

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.

10kg of rice for each teacher stacked in the school co-op.

10kg of rice for each teacher stacked in the school co-op.

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.

Two teachers ride away with their rice.

Two teachers ride away with their rice.


2 responses

  1. anonimus

    actually it’s not unusual. my mother is a teacher for highschool in jakarta, and she gets in kind rice payment too. I still remember in suharto’s time civil servants got ‘jatah beras’ (in-kind rice payment). it starts become unusual now, but years ago it wasn’t.

    2013 March 23 at 13.19

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