Tue, 09 May 2000

School exams to be held on schedule

JAKARTA (JP): The city administration guaranteed on Monday that the state exams for elementary, junior and senior high schools would run according to schedule as teachers have agreed to continue working, despite their disappointment with the government-approved salary increase.

Head of the city office of the Ministry of National Education Alwi Nurdin said his office had approached several educational institutions, like the Jakarta office of the Indonesian Teachers Union (PGRI), the Catholic Education Board and the Muhammadiyah school institution to uphold the students' interests in the first place.

"Insya Allah (God willing) the exams will run well as the teacher institutions have agreed not to go on strike during the state exams, although they are dissatisfied with the government's decision," Alwi said.

Instead of meeting the teachers' demand, the government only raised their functional allowance by 150 percent.

However, a meeting on April 17 between the government -- which was represented by the Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Finance -- and PGRI agreed to a 300 percent increase in teachers' functional allowances.

Alwi said the teachers would choose a more conceptional way to further voice their demand.

About 300,000 students of elementary, junior and senior high schools will take the state exams this year.

According to official scheduling, senior high school students will take their exams from May 22 until May 25, junior high school from May 29 until May 31, while elementary school students will sit theirs on June 5 and June 6.

The exam fees this year are set at Rp 68,300 (US$9) for senior high school students, Rp 81,000 for vocational high school students and Rp 50,600 for junior high school students.

The fee for elementary school students is set by the city education and teaching agency. It is usually subsidized by the city administration.

Teachers in several areas outside the city earlier announced their plan to stage a strike during the state exams, after the government did not to follow their demand of raising their allowances.

The amount of the allowance is far smaller than the teachers' salaries. The allowance is between Rp 45,000 to Rp 70,000 per month, said PGRI's Jakarta office secretary general Sulaiman S.B. Ismaya.

"We are disappointed with the government's decision, but to boycott the exams is not our way of struggling for our interest," Ismaya said.

He said PGRI Jakarta, which has about 80,000 members, vowed to make the state exams successful.

"The state exams are something so important as they also relate to the nation's future.

Moreover, some of the students are also the teachers' children. So if there are still teachers who strike during the exams, it is not under our coordination," he said.

However, Ismaya said, teachers would still struggle for an improvement in their welfare.

"There are many other ways of struggling for the improvement of teachers' welfare, like through dialog, discussions or advocation," he said. (ind)