Community learning centers began to play an increasingly important role after 2003 with the implementation of decentralisation. Decentralisation has the effect of strengthening the role the village community plays to support learning within the community.
In Indonesia, it was the initiative of the community that led to the setting up of community learning centers. Communities were concerned about the fate of marginalized groups that could not access formal education. They were also concerned about the unemployed youths in their community. Believing that the community is in the best position to identify, tap and utilise its members’ inherent potential for further economic, social and cultural growth, and believing that education should be accessible to those who seek it, community learning centers were established within communities. These community learning centers came to be called Pusat Kegiatan Belajar
Masyarakat (PKBM). In time, these centres became vital institutions for the provision of non-formal learning and skills training.
PKBMs were set up through joint community effort and collaboration. PKBMs are village community learning centers where unemployed youths are to be found. The initiative to set up PKBMs was begun by communities themselves who realized the great need to provide education for those who had missed out. PKBMs were often set up with the assistance and contribution of local leaders who could use their influence and resources to seek out premises and establish these centers. Sometimes communities were able to build a new building from community contributions. At other times public or privately-owned buildings were converted for this purpose. There are also cases where an existing premise which had hither to been used to run non-formal education programs (often schools for religious education) was converted.

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