Pay your tuition in coconuts: Bali tourism school gives struggling students nutty alternative

We love coconuts. Photo: Unsplash
We love coconuts. Photo: Unsplash

Here’s a story we love, for obvious reasons. In an extremely coconutty initiative amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a tourism academy in Bali is allowing its students to pay for tuition with ⁠— you guessed it ⁠— coconuts. 

Wayan Pasek Adi Putra, founder of Venus One Tourism Academy in the Tegallalang district of Gianyar Regency, shared with Coconuts Bali in a phone interview how students have expressed concerns about their ability to pay their tuition fees during the global health crisis.

“I have so many students, 200 of them, most of whom have shared their struggles about paying for tuition, especially when many of their parents are on unpaid leave due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Adi said.

As the academy, which was established in 2017, also produces virgin coconut oil (VCO), Adi thought the coconuts-for-tuition initiative will not only help get them involved in the production process, but also lessen their burden.

“So I thought: why not? I need coconuts, so rather than looking everywhere for them, why not just let the students bring the coconuts to campus?” 

Here’s how it works: each coconut is valued at market price, and the monetary value is then put towards the tuition they owe the school. One coconut gets around IDR5,000 (US$0.35), while the school’s annual tuition fee varies between IDR8-10 million (US$560-700).

At the onset of the pandemic, Venus One offered students a three-time installment program to pay their tuition fees but has since shifted to a more flexible scheme, whereby students are allowed to pay as they are able (and yes, with coconuts if they want to). 

“It’s also meant to lift their entrepreneurial spirit,” Adi said, adding that herbs such as moringa and gotu kola leaves are also accepted aside from coconuts. 

In addition, the students are also encouraged to become resellers of the final VCO products in order to boost their entrepreneurship skills.

Read more news and updates from Bali here.

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