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Jakarta Post

64 Riau principals resign over COVID-19 education funds concerns

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, July 18, 2020   /   11:14 am
64 Riau principals resign over COVID-19 education funds concerns Still learning: Teachers from SMA 8 state senior high school in Bukit Duri, South Jakarta, speak to their students by video on the first day of the academic year on July 13. Classrooms have moved online to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

Sixty-four principals of state junior high schools in Riau’s Indragiri Hulu regency have resigned following the Education and Culture Ministry's recent regulation allowing schools to manage the government's school operational assistance (BOS) funds without any limitations.

Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim announced on July 12 that he gave school principals across the country the freedom to use the funds to prepare for necessary infrastructure to enforce strict health protocol amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The principals claimed they resigned because they felt uncomfortable with the decision. They also criticized the lack of detailed explanation on the ministry-issued BOS fund usage guideline.

"We would rather step down from our positions than feel uneasy managing these funds," one of the principals, Harti, said as quoted by tempo.co on Thursday.

She added they had always followed the ministry's guidelines in spending funds. Should the ministry's inspectorate general find any irregularities in its budget audits, the principals could communicate with the inspector in charge and settle the issue.

Harti claimed that several unidentified people had approached and threatened the principals in the wake of the ministry's decision on the BOS fund, causing dozens of them to resign from their positions and work as regular teachers instead.

Read also: COVID-19 education funds leave much to be desired

Ingragiri Hulu Education Agency head Ibrahim Alimin confirmed that there had been intimidation, saying the unidentified people had claimed to be members of certain nongovernmental organizations.

The ministry's acting inspector general, Chatarina Muliana Girsang, later said that the resignation was triggered by intimidation from several parties regarding alleged irregularities surrounding the BOS fund usage in the fiscal year of 2016 to 2018. She went on to say her office had interviewed some of the resigning principals.

"[The resignation] didn't have anything to do with the ministry's recent regulation on BOS fund usage technical guideline to support the schools in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic," she said on Friday as quoted by tempo.co.

She went on to say that the ministry obtained an information regarding alleged irregularities in the usage of BOS funds in the budget for 2016 to 2018 pertaining to the honorarium for a teacher forum (MGMP). She asserted that her office would work with the Attorney General's Office as well as the regional education agency's inspector general to investigate the matter.

The ministry's early childhood, elementary and secondary education acting director general, Hamid Muhammad, said principals should not be wary of using the BOS funds as long as they were following the guideline. (dpk)