SP/Natasia Christy Wahyuni
The House of Representatives is throwing its full support behind plans to implement universal secondary education even though it would cost some Rp 9.5 trillion ($993 million) a year to finance the program.
Under the program, the government is planning to provide School Operational Assistance funding for 9.5 million high school students, including students at general high schools, vocational high school and Islamic schools.
“All the political parties have supported it,” said Utut Adianto, the deputy chairman of the House commission for education.
Utut added that the parties agreed the program would begin next year, and had expressed hope that it would help curb dropouts after the junior high school level.
He said that while there were 14 million students in junior high schools across the country, only nine million continued on to high school.
Speaking ahead of a hearing with National Education and Culture Minister Muhammad Nuh, Utut said he hoped the ministry would file a request for the appropriate budget allocation in the 2013 budget, so the universal secondary education program could be put in place.
“The main problem is that figures as big as that are not available now or in the preliminary 2013 state budget draft presented by the president,” he said. “We should all seek ways to get around this so that the program can be realized.”
In a speech on Independence Day, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the government had allocated Rp 331 trillion for national education next year, up 6.7 percent from the Rp 310.8 trillion this year.
Meanwhile, Hamid Muhammad, the director general for elementary and secondary education, said the universal secondary education program would start on July 23, 2013, at the earliest because the funds were not yet available.
“The January-June 2013 period will follow the current allocations of Rp 60,000 per student per half year. For the July-December 2013 period, we will pay Rp 500,000 per student per semester,” he said.