Fri, 27 Jun 2003

'How can RI improve without education'

Many parents are complaining about the expensive cost of their children's education, not only for the tertiary level, but also for primary education. They grumble that education is only for the rich, while the poor are left to remain uneducated. The Jakarta Post talked to some parents about the issue.

Aminah, 46, is a widower who sells food and vegetables in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta. She lives in South Jakarta with her daughter:

I don't know what to think, because I'm rather ignorant of the current situation.

To tell you the truth, I'm afraid that the money I've prepared to cover my daughter's admission fee for university may not be enough.

I can only ask her to choose a relatively less expensive university. It's not necessarily state-run universities that charge admission fees far higher than those of private institutions.

I only hope the fees will be somewhere between Rp 6 to 7 million. I don't know what I'll do if she is accepted at an expensive state-run university.

I only have about Rp 25 million in my savings for her education -- this is for her entire education, until she graduates from university. I've saved all my earnings for over 10 years, but I'm afraid it won't be enough.

I think the government does not care about low-income earners like me. It only prioritizes the rich, who can afford the costly education.

I just wonder that the country will improve at all, since not everyone has access to a good education -- it's just too expensive.

Kasiyem, 40, is a worker at a textile factory in Tangerang, Banten. She lives in Cipondoh, Tangerang, with her husband and three children:

I don't know yet the exact amount of the admission fee for my son, who's about to enter senior high school.

I heard two years ago that schools charged Rp 800,000 for entering students. I'd guess that this year's fee is significantly higher, more than Rp 1 million at least.

I wonder why state-run senior high schools charge so much? I've saved about Rp 2 million to cover his admission fee.

I'll also have to save up another Rp 1 million for my second child for his tuition and textbooks for his third year of junior high school.

I hate to say it, but education is only for people with a lot of money, while the poor are neglected.

Schools are no longer seen as the source of knowledge, but a money machine, since most schools nowadays are profit-oriented.

I think the government's promise to make primary and secondary education compulsory is just hot air.

Ninik (not her real name), 36, is a housewife whose husband works as a civil servant. She lives in Srengseng, West Jakarta, with him and their three children:

I want to enroll my eldest son in a state-run senior high school in Tangerang. I heard last year that a student with a good grade-point average was charged around Rp 3 million.

I'm anxious because my son only has a mediocre grade. I'm confused about what to do, since I've only prepared about Rp 1.3 million, excluding money to buy his books and uniforms. It's not easy for us, as my husband is just an ordinary civil servant.

I read the newspapers and listen to the latest news about schools so as not to miss a single bit of information.

Every day, I go out to look for the best school for my children. I don't want to send my son to a school that is notorious for student brawls. I want the best for him.

My daughter is also about to enter a state-run elementary school, but the admission fee is relatively cheaper. It's Rp 400,000, or thereabouts. That's the normal price, but if there are any problems with prerequisites, the school usually offers an "amicable way" to settle it -- they just ask for more money.

-- Leo Wahyudi S.