Markus Makur, East Manggarai, NTT – The local administration and legislative council are planning to provide new buildings for SMPN 10 junior high school and other schools in East Manggarai regency, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).
SMPN 10 recently grabbed media headlines over its poor condition. The school, which is located in Gulung hamlet of Ruan village in Kota Kamba district, has bamboo walls and dirt floors. Its four classrooms are equipped with broken desks and chairs. A support post stands in the middle of each classroom to hold up the structure.
Florensia Parera of the East Manggarai Legislative Council and Vinsensius Tala of the East Manggarai education and culture agency visited SMPN 10 on Nov. 6.
Vinsensius said he wanted to gather data and the aspirations of the school's teachers and students during the visit to take back to the council.
"The East Manggarai Legislative Council is currently deliberating the 2020 budget. Our agency has proposed that a new school building be built for SMPN 10," he told The Jakarta Post.
Meanwhile, councilor Florensia commented on the poor condition of the school. "It is a building unfit for teaching and learning activities. I am prepared to support the proposal to building a new school for the 2020 regency budget," she said.
SMPN 10 principal Marselinus Nadin said that the school had submitted requests to the local education agency for the last two years. "We hope that the education agency and the council will include rebuilding our school in the 2020 budget," he said.
Separately, East Manggarai Legislative Council Speaker Heremias Dupa said the council would prioritize school restoration projects for SMPN 10 and other schools in the regency. "We are ready to allocate funds for this," he told the Post by phone.
Education and child protection activists say that many regional administrations do not prioritize education.
A 2016 study by the Civil Society Alliance for Democracy (YAPPIKA) and ActionAid found that 10 municipalities and regencies had allocated a mere 0.99 percent of their regional budget for building and restoring schools. As a result, many schools were left in poor condition, posing safety risks to students and teachers.
The YAPPIKA-ActionAid study shows that school collapses in 2015-2019 claimed the lives of four students and injured 73 others.
"The list could grow [...], as more than six million children study in dilapidated classrooms that could collapse at any time," said YAPPIKA program manager Hendrik Rosdinar.
The most recent school collapse occurred on Nov. 5 in Pasuruan, East Java, when the roof of SDN 1 Gentong elementary school collapsed. An 8-year-old student and a teacher were killed in the accident, while 12 students aged 7 to 11 were injured.