Pangkalan Kerinci, Riau. Pulp and paper company Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited, or the April Group, has always offered scholarships — that cover tuition fees from elementary school to university — for the children of its employees. Now the industry leader also offers a study abroad scholarship program for its talented staff.
April Group's Indonesian subsidiary Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP) offers 40 to 50 university scholarships each year, sending local high school graduates to study agriculture in Yogyakarta's Stiper Agricultural Institute (Instiper) or Bandung's Pulp and Paper Technology Academy.
RAPP employees can now also develop their skills even further by taking a master's degree at universities overseas. To date, a total of 26 RAPP employees have been sent to the Asian Institute Technology in Thailand on full scholarships.
One of them, Sri Rahmi, even gets the rare opportunity of being sent to three different universities in three different countries: the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand, Tohuku University in Japan and University of British Columbia in Canada.
Sri’s incredible story began when the company’s talent management department selected her for her first overseas scholarship. Initially, Sri doubted whether she could survive studying in another country, but the company convinced her to take the once-in-a-lifetime offer.
"I received my first scholarship offer in 2010. I wasn’t that confident in the beginning, but the talent management officers convinced me that I could do it," said Sri, who hails from a small town called Bangkinang, 60 kilometers from Riau’s capital city, Pekanbaru.
Sri was enrolled in Thailand’s Asian Institute of Technology with a scholarship that covered Rp 60 million ($4,400) per semester in tuition fees and Rp 6 million per month in living expenses.
The chemical engineering graduate enrolled for a program at the Thai university to study the pulp and paper industry in depth.
While there, Sri also joined a summer camp in Tohuku University in Japan, before embarking on a master's by research program with the University of British Columbia in Canada.
Sri said her experience living and studying overseas has been invaluable, motivating her to keep striving for the best, for both her family and the company she works for.
She thanked RAPP for giving her the opportunity to see the world and gain new insights without worrying about finances.
"This scholarship offers a lot of benefits, not least the opportunity to gain knowledge from experts in other countries. It's perfect for young Indonesians," Sri said.
Since coming back from her sojourn overseas, Sri has been working as a researcher with RAPP. Some of her main responsibilities include ensuring RAPP's factories run efficiently and researching new methods to increase productivity.