Anita Rachman & Erwida Maulia
A school book supplement triggered controversy on Thursday because it featured a story suggesting adultery, a subject considered unfit for elementary school second graders to whom the copies were distributed.
The controversy began when Hana, 8, a second grader at SD Angkasa elementary school in East Jakarta, asked her mother, Intan, what a “mistress” was as she read the supplement to prepare for a school exam.
Intan’s brother, Donny, lamented about the book on his Twitter account @donnybu, immediately drawing responses from other Twitter users.
“Where has the writer put his brain? How come they make a second grader in an elementary school confused and ask, ‘what is mistress?’” Donny tweeted on Thursday morning.
“Second graders, officially taught at school, about how to make a married couple divorce with a help from a mistress? Wonderful, Jakarta! Indonesia!” he added.
Donny then took a picture of the text about the mistress story allegedly contained in the “Jakarta Cultural Environment Education” supplement intended for second graders.
The story, entitled “Bang Maman Dari (from) Kali Pasir,” describes how a fruit trader, Maman, was trying to separate his daughter Ijah from her husband Salim by asking another character, Patme, to pretend to be Salim’s second wife.
Maman did so because Salim, formerly rich, went bankrupt. The story ended with Ijah fighting with Patme and becoming angry with Salim.
Prominent child advocate Seto Mulyadi immediately criticized the book, saying such content was not proper for children, let alone those as young as eight.
“There are other ways to teach about honesty, or other messages that the story is trying to tell, than by introducing them to the term ‘adultery’ and making them familiar with it,” he told The Jakarta Globe over the phone.
Seto suggested that the book be withdrawn from schools.
Education and Culture Minister Mohammad Nuh, meanwhile, said his ministry would dispatch a team to evaluate the book.
He also said such supplements should be part of the responsibilities of SD Angkasa’s principal, because the ministry only evaluates textbooks, not supplements.
“We don’t evaluate such supplements, thus the principal must be responsible for this,” Nuh told journalists on Thursday afternoon, adding the writer and publisher should be held responsible as well.
“Affairs of husbands and wives are not for the consumption of elementary school kids.”