Jakarta. A recent survey by the Education and Culture Ministry found that approximately 60 percent of students in private schools have demanded the government pays at least half of their tuition fees, while 56 percent of private schools ask for assistance during the Covid-19 outbreak.
“We know it’s a very difficult situation for private schools today but unfortunately we haven’t had a special assistance scheme for them,” Hamid Muhammad, the ministry’s acting director general of primary and secondary education, said in a hearing with the House of Representatives’ education commission on Tuesday.
The best it can do is to relax limitation in the use of the government’s school operational assistance fund, known as BOS, he said.
Hamid said normally schools are allowed to use a maximum of 50 percent of BOS funds to pay part-time teachers. During the Covid-19 pandemic, schools are allowed to use the fund as much as needed.
The BOS fund can also be used to provide internet assistance for teachers and students, as classes are closed in favor of distance learning during the outbreak. The ministry has cooperated with cellular providers such as Telkomsel, XL, Smartfren and Three to provide cheap internet package for teachers and their students, Hamid said.
“Any different kind of assistance must be consulted with the education and culture minister because it’s related to reallocation of the state budget,” he told lawmakers in the video conference.
Tuition assistance program for state high schools and vocational schools must be decided by provincial education departments because provincial governments are responsible for that level of education, Hamid said. State elementary and junior high schools don’t need such assistance because they are exempt from tuition fees in the entire country, he added.
Hamid said part of the BOS funds has been disbursed early between February and April to prevent delays before the current academic year concludes.
“Delays can be caused by problems in schools’ bank accounts, some of them are inactive, invalid, or changed so the transfer fails,” he said.
Hamid asked schools to report to the ministry or contact their banks if they haven’t received the fund yet.
The ministry plans to distribute more of the so-called Smart Indonesia Card, or KIP, to students whose families suffer from the economic impacts of the pandemic. Holders of the KIP are entitled to various government assistance packages.
“We provide KIP to children every time a disaster occurs. If approved, we will add the quota after a discussion with the minister. The 18 million cards in the hand of the Education and Culture Ministry are currently not enough to accommodate all children,” he said.
The KIP focuses on students in the final year of elementary and high schools. The government will distribute another 10 million KIPs in early May, he said.