The Bali provincial govern-ment is to scrap school fees for elementary and junior high school students starting in the 2010 academic year.
Ketut Wija, head of the Bali education office, confirmed on Thursday that the province would still abide by the newly-issued ministerial decree which implied that school operation costs (Dana BOS) would be increased by 50 percent from January 2009.
However, Wija said that if the allocation fund taken from the State Budget was inadequate to cover the education budget, the provincial government would set aside additional funds.
With the new*regulation, students would not be required to pay special fees for school buildings, school text books and other activities, Wija said.
He added that the provincial administration would also consider providing scholaships for underpriviledged and high-achieving students.
"Schools, however, are still permitted to collect a reasonable amount of* money from students in their attempt to improve the quality of their schools, such as to meet international curriculum standards," Wija added. *
School operation costs increased from Rp 254,000 (US$23.09) per elementary school student in 2008, to Rp 397,000 per student in rural areas and Rp 400,000 per student in urban areas per year in 2009.*
For a junior high school student it costs Rp 570,000 per rural student and Rp 575,000 per city student per year.
"The new regulation is applicable to both state and private schools," said Wija.*
In 2008, the Bali provincial government received Rp 162.15 bil-lion for regular school opera-tional costs and Rp 6.87 billion for the procurement of school text books.
The total number of elemen-tary and junior high school students on the island reached 573,196 students.
Wija has called on regency and mayoralty administrations to abide by this new regulation. "We will impose strict sanction against those who violate this regulation," threatened Wija.
The regulation is in line with the central government's pledge to allocate 20 percent of its State Budget to the education sector.
So far, Badung and Gianyar regencies have pledged to implement this new regulation and have provided additional funds to support the state funds.
To improve the quality of our students, he said, the government was actually required to set aside Rp 800,000 for each elemen-tary student*and Rp 1.2 million annually to fund a junior high school student.