Tue, 09 Mar 1999

Rp 50b set for transfer of teachers

JAKARTA (JP): The Ministry of Education and Culture has allocated Rp 50 billion (US$5.5 million) to finance the resettlement of teachers from East Timor, where tensions between prointegration and proindependence groups have escalated.

Minister of Education Juwono Sudarsono told Antara on Monday the money would be used to pay for transportation fares for the teachers and their families, housing and other basic commodities.

Due to budget limitations, however, the ministry would not compensate for damages or loss of goods left behind in haste, he said.

Juwono also said the Director General of Elementary and Secondary Education, Indra Djati Sidi, was in East Timor to gather facts before the ministry notifies the teachers of the transfer date.

Teachers, most of whom come from Java, could wait for departure at a location in the East Timor capital of Dili if they felt insecure, he said.

The ministry had received relocation requests from many teachers, but some 700 employees said they would remain in East Timor, Juwono said.

On Feb. 26, five representatives of the East Timor Teachers Fraternity came to Jakarta to voice teachers' demands for relocation from the province due to spiraling violence.

"Up to now, frequent harassment against teachers has taken place in East Timor," said Hari Suprianto, the delegation leader.

According to Hari, teachers were abused by locals if, for instance, they failed students or dispensed low marks.

In a letter submitted to House Speaker Harmoko, President B.J. Habibie and Minister Juwono Sudarsono, the group stated that from 1990 to 1998, various forms of terror were meted out to teachers in the province. They included three stabbings, 77 beatings, 16 peltings and 58 other acts of intimidation received by 34 junior and senior high school teachers in nine regencies of East Timor. (edt)