Ni Komang Erviani, , The Jakarta Post, , Denpasar | Sat, 12/27/2008 10:55 AM | Bali
Dozens of students followed their counterparts across the nation in protesting against the recently passed education legal entity law, claiming it will turn education centers into “business centers”.
Members of the Student Alliance Against Law on the Education Legal Entity, comprising activists from several student organizations, marched for about 500 meters from the Udayana University campus on Jalan Sudirman to the busy intersection of Jalan Dewi Sartika.
Organizations participating in the demonstration included the Udayana University Students Executive Body, the Indonesian National Student Movement (GMNI) and the Islamic Students Association.
Carrying banners saying “Campuses are not business centers”, “Poor people are not allowed to go to school” and “Indonesia is not for sale”, the protesters demanded the House of Representatives revoke the law.
Opponents of the law, which makes educational institutions into autonomous legal entities and grants them “autonomous, accountable and transparent” management, claim its only effect will be to cause universities to raise tuition fees.
“The law is an effort to commercialize, privatize and politicize education,” said Ni Luh Gina Widyandari, a spokesperson for the protesters.
“This law will just turn campuses into business centers.”
The protesters also demanded the government provide free education at all levels, improve infrastructure of educational institutions to meet international standards and replace the curriculum with a more “democratic” one.
The protest followed several other student demonstrations held at nearly every major campus in the country over the past few days.
All students have voiced similar complaints, calling the law a harsh blow to efforts to provide education for the poor.
According to the House, the law on the education legal entity is an improvement to the university autonomy policy issued in early 2000, which fails to address matters pertaining to school funding.
The legal loophole has been used by many schools to establish their own funding policies, some of which have led to increases in tuition fees.
This occurred at the seven state universities granted autonomous status.
The education legal entity law makes the government responsible for all operating costs, investment, scholarships and financial aid for education up to the ninth year.
After that time, the government is obliged to cover at least one-third of the costs, and senior high schools and universities are allowed to charge their students a maximum fee of one-third of the operating costs.