Ni Komang Erviani , Contributor , The Jakarta Post, Denpasar | Fri, 09/12/2008 10:54 AM | Bali
The Bali administration set a target to decrease the rate students’ drop out to zero by 2009, Bali Governor Mangku Pastika said Thursday.
“In 2009 there will be no students who have to drop out of school and lose their opportunity to get a proper education. That’s our target,” the newly installed governor said during the plenary meeting at the provincial legislature council in Renon.
According to data issued by the Bali education agency, 1,500 students drop out of either elementary or junior high schools across the province, mostly due to financial constraints.
Karangasem, one of the province’s poorest regions located in the southern part the island, has the highest number of student dropouts, the data said.
Education was a primary theme of Mangku Pastika’s campaign during the gubernatorial race. The retired three-star police general repeatedly said education was the only way for the Balinese to prevail in the age of globalization and competition.
In order to achieve the zero student dropouts target, the Bali administration will allocate up to Rp 320 billion (US$34 million) in its 2009 annual budget. That amount is equal to 20 percent of the province’s total annual budget of Rp 1.6 trillion.
“The percentage will be in accordance with the law,” Pastika said, referring to the law on national education that requires the central and regional administrations allocate 20 percent of their total budgets to education.
Once implemented, the 2009 education fund will hit a record as the highest education fund in the history of the island’s annual budget.
The 2008 figure is Rp 111 billion, which is only 11 percent of the provincial budget for this year.
Pastika said he hoped the regental and municipal administrations in his jurisdiction would follow in his footsteps on the matter.
If each of the regional administrations in Bali allocated 20 percent of their annual budgets to education then the island would have a combined education fund of Rp 1.7 trillion, exceeding the province’s 2009 total budget.
“If they fail to do so, then they will be breaching the law.”
Bali Education Agency head Tjok Istri Agung Kusuma Wardhani said the 2007 and 2008 education funds were mostly spent to renovate school buildings and on illiteracy eradication programs. The agency also provided scholarships to 1,000 students of all levels of education in 2007.
I Ketut Kariyasa, the head of Bali legislature council’s commission IV overseeing people’s welfare, said he hoped the 2009 education fund could be used to train and retrain teacher and increase the number of students at state-run vocational schools.
“The number of students at vocational schools must be increased because the graduates of these schools are more ready for the job market (compared to their counterparts from general schools),” he said.