Carlos Ky Paath, Jakarta – The government is mulling over a plan to require couples who want to get married to take pre-marital lessons on family life and children welfare and get certified before they tie the knot, a minister said.
The plan is part of the latest effort by the government to reduce stunting rate among children. According to Health Ministry data from 2018, 31 percent of children under five years old in Indonesia suffered from impaired growth and development.
Studies linked the high prevalence of stunting with parents' insufficient knowledge of nutrition and child development.
"Anyone who wants to enter into a marriage should know what to expect in married life, especially in relation to reproductive health. They will give birth to children who will determine the future of this nation," Muhadjir Effendy, the coordinating minister for human development and culture, said.
The minister was speaking before governors, mayors and district heads from around the country at a National Coordination Meeting between the central government and regional governments, held at the Sentul International Convention Center in Bogor, West Java, on Wednesday.
Today in Indonesia, pre-marital workshops are only available sporadically. They are a prerequisite for marriages in Catholic churches, who provide a variety of lessons from catechism class to more practical workshops on family planning, finances, psychology and child development for couples. The lessons can take over several months before couples are allowed to marry.
For the other 87 percent of the Indonesian population who are not Catholics, however, such lessons are optional and many young couples rely on passed-down wisdom from their elders. The government, however, thinks this is not enough preparation for a marriage.
"We have to give them information on diseases that are harmful to children, including stunting. They have to earn a certificate to show they are ready to be married," Muhadjir said.
Muhadjir plans to discuss the marriage certification program with Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi and Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto. He expects the program to begin sometime in 2020.
"If possible, we should start with the certification next year. We have to remember, stunting poses great dangers to children," Muhadjir said.