Fri, 03 Mar 2000

Education ministry restarts assistance to needy students

JAKARTA (JP): The Ministry of National Education has decided to continue with need-based scholarships after being appropriated an additional Rp 600 billion (US$80 million) in the newly approved 2000 budget.

The ministry in a statement here on Thursday said it would maintain its program of financial assistance to 135,730 university students and 3.9 million school students across the country.

The additional funding also will be used to continue subsidies to privately run schools.

With the advent of the economic crisis in 1998, the ministry announced a program to provide Rp 60,000 in monthly financial assistance to individual students on the condition they also worked on campus.

The government also extended additional operational assistance to state universities during the crisis. The assistance also will continue.

Despite deciding to continue the assistance programs until at least December, the ministry stressed it would eventually eliminate the aid.

The initial draft of the 2000 state budget allocated some Rp 11 trillion to the ministry.

The additional allocation was made after there was an adjustment in the budget's overall expected revenue based on oil price increases.

The approved budget, which covers a nine-month period until the end of December, allocates Rp 11.7 trillion for the education sector, an 11 percent increase from the 1999/2000 budget which covered 12 months.

The ministry also will secure Rp 1.4 trillion for its routine expenditures to help raise the salaries of teachers and lecturers.

However, it is unclear whether the ministry will go ahead with its controversial decision to abolish subsidies to state universities. (dja)