The Jakarta Post
Eighteen students from SMPN 2 Pulau Sembilan junior high school in Kotabaru regency, South Kalimantan, had to spend 17 hours crossing the sea on a fishing boat to sit the computer-based national exams (UNBK) held in the regency's capital.
Junior high schools throughout the country simultaneously held the UNBK from Monday to Thursday.
The government has pushed schools to hold computer-based exams, instead of the usual paper-based exams, a policy that led schools lacking computers and an internet connection to hold the exams in other schools.
SMPN 2 Pulau Sembilan principal Abdul Latif said his school could not hold the UNBK due to the lack of computers, electricity and internet connection. The school then held the exams in SMAN 2 Kotabaru senior high school, located in the regency's capital.
He said that to get to the capital, he, four teachers and 18 students had to take a fishing boat from Matasirih Island last Friday.
"There is a passenger ship, but the schedule doesn't suit our schedule," Abdul said in Kotabaru on Wednesday, as reported by Antara.
The students and teachers had to sit on the narrow ship hatch as big waves kept hitting them throughout the journey, he recalled.
The fishing boat eventually dropped its anchor the following day.
"We hope the government takes a look at our situation. We wouldn't mind crossing the sea, but experiencing the strong winds and big waves made us feel worried," he said.
To ensure students' participation in the UNBK, the school had to spend more than Rp 5 million (US$351) to rent the boat, houses and minivans to get to the school.
Abdul said the small amount of school operational funds (BOS) could not cover the expenses.
To cover the expenses, the school had resorted to bailouts instead of asking for money from the parents.
Money issues have also prevented the students from participating in previous UNBK simulations. As a result, they could only learn to use the computers just before the real exams.
"We only needed some time to learn to use it. It's better to use computers, rather than pencils, because they are faster," one of the students, Halmahera, said. (ars)