By Drs. J.E Hosio, M.Si. M..Th
The population of West Irian Jaya in 2001 was 571,107 or 34.35% of total Papua population. The ratio of each town and province is as follows: Sorong city 157,116; Sorong province (including South Sorong) 139,038; Manokwari province (including Teluk Bintuni and Teluk Wondama provinces) 195,166 and Fak-Fak province 79,742. There is a steady increase in population since 1990. The population of 385,509 in 1990 increased to 571,107 in 2001 or a 32.5% increase.
Looking at the welfare, population of West Irian Jaya with 54,361 families falls under pre-welfare. This is understandable for its tough geographic landscape with limited infrastructure causing development to move slowly. Also, people’s low education level made a huge impact.
Majority of people of West Irian Jaya is Protestant. Others included Catholic, Islam, Hindu and Buddha. Protestant was dominant here since this is the first province Bible was introduced in Mansinam Island, Manokwari on 5 February 1855 by Sending Ottow and Geisler. Whereas Islam spread from Tidore Kingdom. Hindu and Buddha came with government employees and migrants to Papua.
Generally, level of education is still low. Majority of people (82.17%) only finished Elementary School, then Junior High (11.04%), High School (6.11%) and University (0.68%). With such education level, productivity and rapid change are sluggish. The low education level is the result of imbalanced ratio between educational infrastructure, teachers and students. Faculty of Agriculture at Cendrawasih University in Manokwari was expanded to become University of Papua in the hope that the propotio of higher education graduates will increase.
Majority of population in this province works as farmers and lives in villages with relatively low productivity with only 23,369 people recorded by the Employment Agency looking for work in 2001. This number showed a high number of productive workers was unrecorded or not looking for work in the formal sector. Understanding the high concentration of workers in agricultural sector, unemployment rate is believed to be high. This figure also showed opportunities for works in formal sector are relatively low resulting in low interest in this area.
Source : Papua Barat dalam Realitas Politik NKRI by Drs. Jusach Eddy Hosio, M.Si. (free translation)