Mon, 17 Mar 2003

NGOs release 'education bill'

JAKARTA: Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and education activists have released their own version of the education bill as a protest against the House of Representatives and the government, which are now deliberating on an education bill.

The NGOs and activists, which are united in the Plural Society Group (Kumpul), announced their bill on Friday at the office of Kapal Perempuan, and called it the "people's version of the education bill."

Kumpul has demanded that the House postpone passing the bill from the original schedule of May, saying that the House should accommodate more aspirations from the public, especially from "marginalized" citizens.

Kumpul, which has intensively formulated the public version bill for almost three months, consists of NGOs whose constituents are workers, domestic helpers, street children and many more.

"We have known about the bill since August last year," said Yanti Muchtar, the director of Kapal Perempuan. "And the government invited us to a hearing one day and we conveyed our opinions. But apparently, they did not take our opinions seriously and none of our items made it into the bill."

The bill, according to Kumpul, was full of superficial religious thinking and market-oriented ideas. Moreover, they thought the bill hampered schools and the public from creatively running their own education programs in line with their visions and missions.