All national education policies must be geared toward ensuring universal access to affordable, high-quality education, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Tuesday.
“Quite simply, our development paradigm for education is to improve the quality of education, make it easier to access and make it cheap,” he said at a coordinating meeting on education.
“There needs to be more opportunity for our sons and daughters to obtain an education beyond just basic schooling.”
He also called for the eradication of illegal and unnecessary school fees, particularly when levied on students from underprivileged families.
“We must free these people from having to pay unnecessary costs. That’s the essence of our education development,” Yudhoyono said.
He revealed that he had also received numerous reports via his text message complaints line about parents being charged illegal fees at state and private schools, including those that receive School Operational Aid (BOS) funds from the government.
“I still receive messages from various sources that there are extra fees that should not be charged to students of both private and state elementary schools,” he said.
“With the increased budget for the BOS program, there shouldn’t be any justification for burdening the students’ parents with any additional fees.”
The president said he had been informed by the Education Ministry that the BOS fund had been raised by 50 percent for the new academic year. The BOS is given to schools to subsidize the cost of educating students.
Under the program, each participating elementary school will receive Rp 580,000 ($60) per student per month, up from Rp 397,000 last year.
Junior high schools will receive Rp 710,000 per student per month, up from Rp 570,000.
“Our expectation is that the increased BOS funding will help tackle the education problems in [underdeveloped] regions,” Yudhoyono said.
He also called for greater supervision of the way that BOS funds were distributed and used, citing the high number of complaints and allegations about embezzlement and lack of transparency in the spending.