For well-off, skeptical parents: A wider choice
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The current Indonesian education system, with its high fees and additional costs, has made parents more selective when choosing schools for their children.
A UN study in 2006 by the first UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, identified Indonesia as one of the countries where “the right to free and compulsory education is loudly and universally proclaimed, and quietly and systematically betrayed.”
The free and compulsory nine years of basic education was started by the Soeharto administration a decade ago in 1994, but public primary education is clearly still “for fee, not free”, as the Special Rapporteur, the late Katarina Tomasevski, wrote.
For well-to-do families, private secular and non-secular schools provide a wide option, and are a booming business. Although their fees are much higher — a “medium” average entrance fee to a number of popular Muslim and Catholic schools are around Rp 20 million (US$2115.28) — many parents say they are more assured in terms of their quality.
Dwi Aprilianto, a father of two, has enrolled his daughters in a private Muslim elementary school, although he lives near a state elementary school in South Tangerang, Banten.
He says the school, Sekolah Dasar Islam Terpadu (Combined Islamic Elementary School) is known as a good private school with Islamic principles, with classes of only 30 students, compared to others which may have 40 students. “Actually, the most important thing is that the tuition cost is also cheaper compared to other private schools,” Dwi said.
Dwi, a creative director at a prominent advertising agency, only spent around Rp 3.6 million to enroll his youngest daughter in SDIT last year. The cost included five pairs of school uniforms, while the monthly tuition fee is Rp 150,000.
The school has received School Operation Aids (BOS) from the government, a state education subsidy which started in 2005. The funds are used to cover operational costs like electricity and telephone costs, human resources and books.
Other parents opt for more costly boarding schools.
Hanifah, a mother of three, enrolled her son, Andi, in a Muslim boarding school in South Jakarta, for which the family paid around Rp 12 million. This fee included books, uniforms and the language laboratory, while monthly tuition fees are Rp 900,000.
“We pay expensive costs here, but we know where the money is going. Besides, I believe my son will grow up to be a good man,” she said, smiling.