Thu, 23 Nov 2000

Teachers to get 300% hike in allowance

JAKARTA (JP): Teachers will receive a total of 300 percent hike in their allowance starting January next year amid calls for a better salary system for educators, an official said on Wednesday.

"We realize that the Ministry of National Education cannot afford to raise teachers' basic salaries since our estimated budget for next year is only Rp 11.3 trillion (US$1.1 billion) or about 3.8 percent of the state budget," director general of primary and secondary education Indra Djati Sidi told the media.

"But, we will keep our promise to raise teachers' allowances," he said, revealing that the first 150 percent raise in the allowance was given in April 2000 and the next 150 percent raise will be effective early next year.

The monthly functional allowance to second (II) echelon teachers are being raised from Rp 45,000 to Rp 180,000; third (III) echelon teachers from Rp 55,000 to Rp 220,000 and fourth echelon teachers from Rp 70,000 to Rp 280,000.

"The allowance also includes several fees. We are also planning to raise the fee for extra-hour teaching from only Rp 1,000 per hour to Rp 10,000 per hour," he added.

Teachers' low incomes and poor standards of living as well as constant government manipulation such as pooling them for electoral ballots during the past regimes, culminated into a massive demonstration demanding for better welfare in May this year.

Meanwhile, chairman of the Indonesian Teachers Union (PGRI) M. Surya urged on Wednesday for a better salary system for teachers, especially in the upcoming regional autonomy.

"A clear promotion and grading system must be set for these teachers. We want fair judgment and appraisal. Teachers must be rewarded for their efforts.. and so far the rewards are still far too small," Surya said in a meeting with PGRI teachers from South Jakarta, ahead of the Teachers Day commemoration and the 55th anniversary of PGRI which falls on Saturday.

Surya further noted that decentralization process must be used as an opportunity to cut down on bureaucracy that have been reducing teachers' salaries for dozens of years.

He cited a recent Supreme Audit Body (BPK) report which stated that at least Rp 84 billion of teachers' salaries in Jakarta had "disappeared" in the past years.

"This chronic condition must be stopped.

"I also suggest that in a bid to improve the teaching profession, teachers must have at least a graduate degree (S1) to teach in junior and senior high schools and a minimum D-2 diploma for elementary schools," Surya added.

The commemoration of Teachers Day on Saturday will be held at the Presidential Palace and will be officiated by President Abdurrahman Wahid, accompanied by first lady Sinta Nuriyah and Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri. (edt)