Wed, 29 Mar 2000

Schools out in Jayawijaya

JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya: Thousands of primary-age school children have stopped attending classes because their teachers have quit in the face of intimidation from West Papuan separatist rebels.

The head of the Ministry of National Education Office in the Jayawijaya regency, G.W. de Fretes, said on Tuesday that school activity has been turned upside down.

Many high school students have also stopped going to schools, preferring to join the "Papuan Task Force" which is seeking independence for the province, de Fretes said.

"Non-Papuan teachers at six junior and senior high schools in remote districts of Bokodini, Tiom, Kurima and Karubaga have fled to Wamena with their families because of continuous threats from the proindependence movement," de Fretes said.

"In Kurima dozens of elementary schools have practically closed after all the teachers quit," he said.

Principals of schools in these areas have proposed that students take their exams in Wamena, which could be reached only by plane from Jayawijaya. (eba/sur)