On Monday 21 May 2018, Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) with the Orangutan Republik Foundation (OURF) officially launched the Orangutan Caring Scholarships (OCS) at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Palangka Raya (UPR). It is the first OCS to launch in Central Kalimantan with the two scholarships to be allocated for the selected candidates. The purpose of the scholarship is to boost the students’ awareness from forestry department under the faculty of agriculture to preserve the forest through research that links to the prime habitat of the orangutan in Borneo.
From its very first launch, there seems to be a huge ‘boom’ of applicants to compete for the scholarships. From the 90 students that applied the OCS, 10 students were selected to follow the upcoming selections of the OCS in order to decide the two lucky winners of the OCS.
Equally important, OURF’s primary focus through OCS is to save the orangutan from extinction through education and outreach programs. As for this reason, OURF has provided the scholarships to various fields of study but place huge priority subjects such as biology, veterinary science, and forestry that directly link to the study of the orangutan. OURF currently targets 150 scholarship recipients to be awarded the OCS by 2018 with 20 awardees to be selected this year and 2 will be selected as the final awardees from UPR.
“My expectation is to help those who can’t afford to go to university as a way to get an education. In the future, the recipients should help the challenges faced by orangutan and speak on the behalf of them to have better living in the forest” said Dr. Garry L. Saphiro, a founder of Orangutan Republik Foundation.
He also added that BNF has been so helpful and professional in assisting OURF in the distribution of the scholarship to UPR.
“I think because BNF is a mature organization here in Palangka Raya with good collaborations with universities. They coordinate very well. So I’m sure that they’ll be able to do the best job to help with the scholarship programme” Garry added.
The event was then followed by the opening speech from the Dean of Faculty of Agriculture of UPR, Ir. Cakra Birawa MP, that thanked OURF as the donor of the OCS and BNF as the facilitator of the scholarship for generous support to provide the students with OCS scholarships.
“We push the students from the forestry department to use the opportunity because we think that they link to the goal of this scholarship. We have created the procedures for fair internal selections at the UPR, the final selection panels will be represented by 3 faculty members from UPR and two representatives from BNF” said Ir. Cakra Birawa MP.
Bernat Ripoll Capilla as the Field Director of BNF then further explained about the OCS Scholarship, its requirements, selection processes, procedures, parties involved, and things that need to be done by the scholarship recipients. Berni, a short name of the Director, also emphasized the purpose and the goal of the OCS scholarship to the audiences.
“The aim of this scholarship is to develop a generation that cares towards any issues of conservation. Therefore, we highly need a person with full integrity not only to the forest but also the wildlife that inhabit the forest as their prime habitat” said Berni.
Orangutan is the closest neighbour of human species that becomes the flagship of Borneo with the name of Bornean orangutan. Borneo is so lucky to have the forest like Sabangau Forest that is noticeably home for the largest red apes population.
So far the scholarships have been distributed to three regions of Indonesia including Aceh, West Kalimantan, and North Sumatera since 2006 to 2017 with at least 77 alumni of the OCS have graduated from batch 2006-2015. Those alumni have now been employed in many sectors like government, private sectors, businesses, and NGOs.
Dr. I Nyoman Sudiana M.Sc, a vice rector for academic affairs at UPR, expressed his great enthusiasm that BNF has chosen UPR as the target university to receive the scholarships. As widely known, BNF has long-partnered with CIMTROP from the University of Palangka Raya in collaborative research carried out at Peatland Forest Laboratory (LAHG) situated in Sabangau Forest. He expects to have more opportunities to work together with BNF in the future for more research collaborations on the prospective research topics such as peatland forest and orangutan.
Before the event ended, Melia, a student from forestry department at UPR, expressed her interest in carrying out a research topic on eusideroxylon zwagery (or locally named Ulin) as this native timber to the forests in Borneo has nearly extinct because of the great illegal logging that happened in the past.
“The scholarship is open to any possible research topics that link to orangutan. Therefore, it is not merely about orangutan, its behaviour, and populations” said Agnes, Program Development Manager of BNF, responded to the audience.
The scholarship has been officially launched, and it will be finalized by serious interview selection with the 10 selected candidates to sort out two final candidates to be awarded the scholarship. The final selections will be attended by three representatives from UPR and two BNF representatives that will dig up the applicants’ motivations and commitments to undertake this scholarship opportunity.