IDNAround – East Nusa Tenggara Governor Viktor Laiskodat has been facing criticism since he ordered high school students in the provincial capital Kupang to begin classes as early as 5:00 a.m., two hours early from what applies nationally.
Elements from the community have described Viktor’s policy as inhuman and may put students’ health and safety at risk.
The Indonesian Teachers’ Union Federation (FSGI) called on the governor to repeal the ruling immediately.
FSGI Secretary General Heru Purnomo said the governor did not “consider the perspective of the students” and that “regular schools are equated with boarding schools”.
“Children are treated like traditional market traders who start to work from 3:00 a.m.,” Heru said.
The FSGI found that the 5 a.m. school opening policy hasn’t been discussed properly with community members but a number of state schools already implemented it earlier this week.
“According to information, this policy hasn’t been discussed with teachers before, only the headmasters were notified. Surely the headmasters do not dare to refuse the government’s policy,” Retno Listyarti, who heads the federation’s expert council, said.
She added students with special needs may have problems coming at dawn but the provincial government hasn’t addressed such an issue.
Retno said the policy was formulated without prior research and studies on possible impacts on students.
Provincial ombudsman Darius Daton urged the East Nusa Tenggara Education Department to review the policy and invite school committees and parents to a frank discussion.
According to FSGI research, most parents oppose the extremely early start of learning even before sunrise because students will find it hard to get transportation to school and parents aren’t ready to provide support so early in the morning.
The provincial legislative council also said the governor hasn’t consulted with them prior to implementing the controversial policy.
“This policy caught us all by surprise and the council hasn’t been involved in communication regarding this,” said Inche Sayuna, the deputy speaker of the council.
A number of state high schools in Kupang began implementing the policy on Monday, four days after Viktor introduced his plan during a visit to the education department.
“On the first day, only dozens of students managed to arrive early. But a day later 40 percent of students arrived on time,” said Hendrikus Hati, the headmaster of state high school SMA 6 in Kupang.
He seemed to be unwilling to challenge the governor’s controversial policy.
“It’s true a few parents protested the policy but most of the parents are supportive of this change in school hours,” Hendrikus claimed.
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