‘Free’ school program puzzles principals
Paper Edition | Page: 9
Principals and parents throughout the city have been confused or downright ignorant of the Jakarta are administration’s recently launched free high-school program.
The program — which came into effect on Monday, the first day of the new academic year — requires students to complete 12 years of secondary school and waives tuition for high school students.
Some officials, however, have said the free tuition aspect only applied to new high school students, and not to second or third-year students.
For example, Sarwin, the head of the student admission committee at SMAN 13 state high school in Koja, North Jakarta, said on Tuesday that while the school would not charge new students tuition, officials would soon meet with the parents of existing students to inform them that their children would still be charged tuition, which typically runs from Rp 200,000 (US$20.52) to Rp 500,000 a month.
“If the government tells us to lower or eliminate the monthly fees, we will comply,” Sarwin said.
Ery, whose daughter has just started SMAN 31 in East Jakarta, had a slightly different story.
“Up to now, I haven’t been charged any fees, but from what I heard, there will be a meeting to discuss about tuition in one or two weeks,” Ery said.
Teachers, parents and school administrators have been doubting that the program would be implemented smoothly.
Djazuli, a teacher at SMAN 50 in East Jakarta, said that the school did not charge new first-year students for admission or charge returning students tuition.
The teacher was concerned about how the school would meet its operating expenses, including for small expenditures, such as whiteboard markers, lab equipment and extracurricular activities.
“Moreover, teachers might lose their meal and transportation allowances, as we usually depend on the tuition to cover them,” he said.
The 12-year compulsory education program supplements the national nine-year program launched in 1994.
Jakarta Education Agency head Taufik Yudi Mulyanto recently said that the administration had allocated Rp 10.4 trillion, or a 30.76 percent of its Rp 36.02 trillion budget, for the education.
The money will be used to carry out the 12-year compulsory education program in the form of Education Operational Aid (BOP) given to cover 102,033 students at 106 state high schools and 44,700 students at 49 state vocational high schools. (aml)
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