14 September 2010

Tertiary education becoming more elitist, poor students missing out

Kompas - September 13, 2010

Jakarta -- Tertiary education is becoming more elitist compared with the 1990s 
and 1990s, with the participation of those from less well off families dropping. 
The increasingly high cost of study is the principle obstacle facing the poor 
wishing to attend tertiary education.

This fact can be seen from a study on gross enrollment ratio (GER) rates based 
on the economic background of students.

Looking at population census data for the years 2003-2008, the tertiary 
education GER disparity between students from rich and poor families is 
extremely high.

Enrolment levels for the poorest section of the population at tertiary education 
level in 2008 reached 4.19 percent. For the richest section of the population 
meanwhile it was as high as 32.4 percent, although this was a decline of 3 
percent. For the second richest group meanwhile, there was an increase of around 
1 percent.

Nationally, the tertiary education GER for the academic year 2009/2010 only 
reached 17.93 percent out of those in the age group 19-24 years, around 28 
million people.

"I see that tertiary education is becoming more and more elitist for the poor. 
In the 1980s and 1990s, the number of poor that were able to study was above 10 
percent. Meaning that the current situation is of even more concern for those 
who do not have money", said education observer Darmaningtyas when contact from 
Jakarta on Sunday September 12.

According to Darmaningtyas, access for poor students had declined dramatically 
since 2000. The reason for this is that during this period state universities 
(PTN) began to open special entry lanes that in reality were easier for rich 
students to access.

The logic of the state universities, which have opened a special entry lanes so 
that cross subsidies could happen, said Darmaningtyas, is inappropriate. 
Tertiary education institutions are not incorporated companies that provide 
different access in accordance with economic means.

"Tertiary education provides a service that is a citizen's right, not 
differentiating between rich and poor. In education, access must be the same. 
What [should] be differentiated are taxes for the poor and rich that can later 
be used to fund education", said the activists from the Taman Siswa University.

Because of this therefore, tertiary education institutions now, particularly 
state university, must be cheap. In order for this to happen, the government 
must increase budget allocations for tertiary education level institutions.

In addition to this, the acceptance of students must be open and simultaneous, 
lest there be technological obstacles for students from remote regions with 
online systems coming into effect.

National Education Minister Mohammad Nuh admits that educational access at 
intermediate and tertiary levels between the poor and rich are still imbalanced. 
Nuh however stressed that education cannot be allowed to be discriminative. 
Because of this, efforts to broaden public access to all education levels must 
be improved. (ELN)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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