Indonesia, Sept.27/28th:
Protests against new ‘Higher Education Act’

On July 13 2012, the House of Representatives passed a new bill on higher education. During the plenary session, the new bill was introduced to give public universities greater autonomy in aspects of governance and seeking non-state funding, but still allows for substantially tight regulation from the government.
Activist groups across Indonesia have been protesting against the bill claiming that the provisions on ‘autonomy’ would pave way for the commercialization of higher education and result in increased fees. It is eminent that the privatization and liberalization of universities will turn higher education into a business commodity and this is something various activist groups are rejecting, despite what Syamsul Bachri, the head of the House working committee said; that the bill was really a “constructive effort toward managing and regulating the higher education sector to be more modern and globally competitive.”
As part of the efforts to counter this new bill students organized in the Indonesian Student Union (SMI) – which supports and prepares activities in connection with the GLOBAL EDUCATION STRIKE [Oct.18 + Nov.14-22] – organized protest actions in 15 cities on September 27/28th (see pictures below).
Here is an example (on a junction in Semarang City):
In December 2005 the government already signed the GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services), which govern the liberalization of trade in 12 service sectors. The agreement also considers education as a public sector service that should be privatized and therefore public control to be removed. Here are some figures that might help to understand the situation better:
  • Of the 49,000 kindergartens in Indonesia, 99.35 percent are privately operated schools.
  • In contrast to the majority of privately run kindergartens, most elementary schools are government-operated public schools, accounting for nearly 93 percent of all elementary schools in Indonesia.
  • 56 percent of junior secondary and 67 percent of senior secondary schools are run privately.
  • 68 percent of all higher education students are enrolled in one of the more than 3,000 private institutions in the country. There are only about 130 public institutions.

Therefore this new bill on higher education is part of the whole process, which increases the privatization and commercialization of education even further. A process that can be observed around the world and that makes common efforts in the struggle for free emancipatory education more necessary than ever. After all education is the basis for the emancipation of the individual as well as society at large and therefore should be considered a fundamental right.


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