Suku Mentawai

Indigenous Education Foundation Programs

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Suku Mentawai

Yayasan Pendidikan Budaya Mentawai (YPBM) is a non-profit organization based in Muntei Village, South Siberut, in the Mentawai Islands. YPBM vison is to provide Mentawai youth and the broader community access to learn about Mentawai cultural and environmental knowledge through non-formal, extra-curricular education programs.

YPBM Director, Fransiskus Yan, says “The need most critical to our community is the delivery of a cultural education program throughout every region of Mentawai, delivered in accordance with the specific needs and cultural customs of each individual district. Our Yayasan Pendidikan Budaya Mentawai team has developed a model to achieve this, giving our children opportunity to learn about Mentawai’s culture and local wisdom, so that this wealth can carry us into the future.

Mentawai girls with traditional hats
Fransiskus also added, “This program is important because if we do not take the initiative and take advantage of this opportunity then our culture will be lost and our children and community will be destined for poverty, or worse, disappear. An impoverished culture is as harmful as abject poverty. We have seen a really positive impact on our Mentawai community - particularly the younger generation, since the cultural and environmental learning program has been running here in Siberut Island. The program is now running in 5 different villages and we have over 120 students. Parents are seeing their children develop new skills and understanding of our cultural wisdom, such as gathering from the forest, making handicrafts, and learning Mentawai’s traditional story, song and dance.

Mentawai girls learning to make cultural necklaces

Suku Mentawai and the Indigenous Education Foundation

YPBM Director, Fransiskus Yan, says “YPBM Founder, August Tonggiat, and IEF Founder, Rob Henry, began working together in 2010-2011. In the early stages, Rob assisted August and a team of young Mentawai researchers to conduct a baseline survey. By 2013, we had established a suku Mentawai cultural education foundation to develop a program. We are very grateful that the relationship between YPBM and IEF has always been open, honest and focuses on enabling us Mentawai to find our own way forward. We appreciate the way in which Rob and IEF have supported us, but it is the encouragement to be as we are and to assert ourselves that has made the difference.
To learn more about Yayasan Pendidikan Budaya Mentawai's inspiring program and achievements, visit their website at

Support YPBM and their objectives by making a donation via IEF. All donations over $2 are tax deductible. 100% of your donation is given toward their program initiatives.

Mentawai boy practicing traditional cultural dance
Mentawai cultural teacher in Toktuk village

Key documents

2011-2012 Community Research Report
YPBM activities and achievements, 2017-2019
YPBM monthly activity reports, 2017 onwards
Advancing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals 1, 4, 8 & 10 poverty 4.quality education 8.decent work and economic growth 10.reduced inaqualities