Sat, 04 Jun 1994

Govt goes ahead with its plan to appoint top grade schools

JAKARTA (JP): An official says the authorities will forge ahead with their plan to appoint six state-run high schools as top grade schools, saying that such a policy will not create exclusivity among high schools here.

"The only advantage for the appointees is more freedom to accept students from any part of the city. At present, state- owned high schools can only take in students who reside in the same mayoralty as the school," Soebroto, section head at the Jakarta office of the Ministry of Education and Culture, told The Jakarta Post yesterday.

The six high schools are SMAN 70 and SMAN 8 in South Jakarta, SMAN 68 in Central Jakarta, SMAN 81 in East Jakarta, SMAN 78 in West Jakarta and SMAN 13 in North Jakarta.

City councilors had previously opposed the plan because they believed it failed to address the real problems with the educational system. They also argued that such a policy could lead to the schools becoming playgrounds for children of the rich and famous.

Tunggul Siagian, chairman of the Jakarta Chapter of Privately Organized Education (Majelis Pendidikan Swasta DKI), said earlier that the prestige associated with the designated schools "might induce some high-ranking officials to release katebeletje (references) to the principals of the schools to accept their children, regardless of their intellectual ability."

Soebroto gave his assurance that the policy will neither create an exclusive atmosphere nor spawn jealousy because the schools will not set academic admission standards. He added that the schools will charge the same school fees and apply a curriculum similar to that at ordinary schools.

"The freedom to accept students from other mayoralties is their only advantage because it will give students with good grades a wider range of choices," he said.

According to Soebroto, the program has the full support of the Minister of Education and Culture as it aims to encourage other high schools to rise to the level of the six appointed schools.

Soebroto also said the number of high school graduates inched upwards from 99.21 percent in 1993 to 99.25 percent this year, an indication of improvements in the education system here.

All high schools in Jakarta announced the names of their graduates on Thursday.

He acknowledged that such progress meant little in the grand scheme of things, but stressed that to reach the elusive 100 percent figure every percentage point counts.

Eka Sudarba, the office's spokesman, added that this year, the graduation rate at state-run high schools reached 99.51 percent while that of private high schools checked in at 98.75 percent.

However, Eka refused to comment on the widespread belief that state-owned high schools have lower standards than private ones, which explained the latter's slightly lower graduation rate. (03)