Margaret Barry, OAM

Margaret Barry is the Founder and CEO of Bali Children Foundation (BCF), her efforts through the foundation have helped thousands of children in Bali and other areas of Indonesia.

“I started the work in October 2002 after the first Bali Bomb. Witnessing the heroic and successful efforts of volunteers helping the injured, I thought that the synergy of Balinese, expatriates and tourists working together could be directed to a broader purpose. Soon we learned the atrocity was an act of terror originating in a poor community in Java. I knew of several Balinese isolated and impoverished communities that could be potentially radicalised and saw education as a way to elevate these villages. That’s where BCF’s vision of Education to Employment came from,” explains Margaret, who was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for her work in 2018.

She explains the core mission of the foundation: “We select and survey remote villages with underserved schools, we provide scholarships to the 10-15% most impoverished children, upgrade classrooms, donate equipment and waste management facilities in small schools with inadequate budgets. BCF also delivers curriculum in these schools. Classes in these schools include English, STEM (an integrated subject for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and Remedial Literacy & Numeracy. We equip Grade 1 students with tablets for Literacy and Numeracy and train their government form teachers to deliver this Ed Tech curriculum.”


The results in education are phenomenal, often out-performing the national average, essentially leapfrogging the children from undereducated to academic stars. For example, BCF-engaged school scores for reading and counting are 34% higher than non-BCF school equivalents. For older students, the BCF Grade 12 scholarship graduates in 2023 saw 88% of them entering college, university, apprenticeships or were employed three months after leaving school. One graduate is even working towards her Australian medical license, having graduated as a doctor, and still finds time to mentor young BCF students.

The EdTech curriculum has been a particular focus for the foundation, introducing digital tools in learning to ensure students are literate in today’s technologies and not left behind. The goals for 2024 are to deliver the programme to Grade 1 students in 50 schools by year-end.

Outside of Bali, Bali Children Foundation’s work extends to Lombok, the Gilis and will this year expand to West Sumba and Sumbawa. “While there is more to do in remote Bali, it’s important to assist the most deeply disadvantaged Indonesian children in the poorly served remote regions of eastern Indonesia,” Margaret shares.

Even with the life-changing results already achieved, Margaret Barry and the team at BCF continuously develop their education approaches whilst simultaneously searching for more communities who need their help.

@balichildrenfoundation |

Edward Speirs

Edward Speirs

Edward, or Eddy as he prefers to be called, is the Managing Editor of NOW! Bali and host of the NOW! Bali Podcast. He enjoys photography, rural travel and loves that his work introduces him to people from all walks of life.