Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Spend Money On Poor Kids

My Letter To Jakarta Post (Published on 3 April 2007)

Spend Money On Poor Kids

Starting in April, the city administration will be giving away money for education. A total of Rp 47.5 billion to be exact (Post, 28 March). Will it go to the poorest of the poor who need it the most? Not exactly. The money will go to the richer children in private schools who attend the 761 Primary and 689 Junior High Schools in Jakarta.

The number of private Primary Schools is about 25% of the total number in the city (around 3,200), an extremely large percentage. Supporting any children in attending school is great, but why support the richer ones who are already receiving better facilities than others, facilities that in a western country would be considered normal and not elite? Are there no better uses for public money than encouraging the privatization of the school system? With entry fees ranging in the tens of millions, these schools are already doing good business without any help from the government.

The government says education in Primary is already free. But at a restaurant I often go to, there is a 10 year old boy who sells magazines until 11pm every day, including school nights. When I asked why, he said so he can afford to go to school. I talked to him about his family and his difficult life, so I believe he was being honest. Schools may well be free, but food, transport, books, uniforms, shoes, notebooks, pencils, etc., are very clearly not free. How many kids are not going to school for want of enough money to buy these things? Instead of helping kids like that boy, the government wants to make the life of richer kids in private schools even easier.

How about some other uses for that money in the public system such as higher teacher salaries, teacher training (upgrading of skills), fixing roofs so they don’t collapse, increasing the number of storybooks, providing computers, repainting school buildings, providing sports equipment, fixing toilets and providing soap, etc. Don’t kids in public schools deserve first use of public money? If the government gave away money to rich kids in Pondok Indah to reduce the cost of buying pizza, wouldn’t parents see it as an unnecessary expense, especially when there are so many kids who can’t eat properly everyday? Why can’t the government gets its priorities straight and take care of those who are suffering in the public schools before worrying about richer kids?

When is Indonesia going to get public officials who actually care about our children and the future of this country?

Gene Netto

Jakarta, Indonesia

2 comments:

  1. test test......

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  2. This would be the hardest homework for Indonesian government to settle...poverty. As we aware that our country has abundant natural resources but we still can not manage by our own effort. It might be a condition and culture or even our life patterns make us a lazy people. But one thing is for sure that we are smart for being selfish. Problems in your article will not come up if everyone here has a sense of giving. Anny

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