President Joko Widodo should not let the five school days- or full-day schooling- plan remain unresolved. The decision to leave it hanging has made matters worse.
It is abundantly clear that the argument over the five-day schooling plan must be resolved immediately. President Jokowi should not close his eyes to the fuss that has ensued since it was announced on June 12.
Since it was issued, Education and Culture Ministerial Regulation No. 23/2017 on School Days was a mistake. According to Education and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy, this regulation corrects the tendency for teachers to not do their jobs properly. These teachers ‘hide’ behind Ministerial Regulation No. 74/2008, under which teachers fulfill their working hours obligations by teaching at more than one school because only face-to-face class time is counted as working hours. However, says Muhadjir, teachers are not simply tutors, but also facilitators tasked with developing the potential of their students.
Muhadjir wants teachers to spend more time at school. He has even revoked the old rule that motivated teachers to teach at many schools to increase their income as long as they fulfill their teaching hours obligations. Under this new regulation, No. 17/2017, teachers can only teach at one school.
Another consideration of Muhadjir is that under the new system, children have longer time off that they can use to spend time with their parents, who typically do not work at weekends. And this is where Muhadjir’s lack of attention to detail becomes apparent. He is only thinking like a city dweller, who works from Monday to Friday.
Muhadjir’s idea triggered anger, especially in the regions with many Islamic schools. The five-day schooling rule is seen as harming the religious madrasah schools, which hold classes in the afternoon. These schools are deeply entrenched in villages. Children usually study Koranic reading in mosques or madrasah in the afternoons, which is something that Muhadjir did not consider.
As a result, there was a stream of protests from Islamic schools, Nahdlatul Ulama religions teachers and even from Vice President Jusuf Kalla. Jokowi was accused of siding with Muhadjir, who is from the Muhammadiyah group. Although the president subsequently revoked Muhadjir’s regulation, Muslims are still angry.
Protests spread in areas with many Islamic schools such as Tasikmalaya, Jombang, Kediri, Lumajang and Madura. In the Lirboto, Kediri region, East Java, students attacked the decision by saying that the term FDS, or full-day schooling, should be ‘full-day sarongs’.
Now Jokowi is doing nothing because he is trapped between two political interests: those of the followers of Muhammadiyah and of Nahdlatul Ulama. Minister Muhadjir has taken a step back by saying that the five-day schooling rule is not obligatory.
If this is an official government decision, the president should immediately include it in a residential regulation, as he promised. Silence, in this case, is not golden. The grumbling about the five-day schooling plan must be stopped by providing legal certainty. Don’t forget: education in Indonesia still lags behind that of our neighbors. If we are still caught up in this kind of triviality, catching up with other countries is going to be much more difficult.