Jakarta – Islamic junior high school SMP IT Nur Hidayah in Surakarta, Central Java, has drawn criticism over its decision to expel a female eighth grader because of her recent interactions with a male peer through a messaging app.
The student, identified only by her initials AN, was expelled from SMP IT Nur Hidayah for allegedly committing a series of "violations" that included texting birthday wishes to her male friend. The school said it considered this particular action "a grave violation", which warranted immediate expulsion.
School principal Zuhdi Yusroni confirmed AN's expulsion. However, he was tight-lipped on the details of the events leading up to it.
"I apologize, I'm unable to explain the chronology of the events to protect the student," he told tribunnews.com on Saturday.
Responding to the news, a member of the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI), Retno Listyarti, said AN's expulsion was "an over-reaction" on the school's part.
"We believe that the school was over-reacting by imposing the sanction [on the student]," she said in a statement issued on Sunday.
She lamented the school's decision, saying that the school had denied AN her right to education by kicking her out on vague grounds. Furthermore, she was concerned that the expulsion could create a stigma around AN once she moved to another school.
"We might as well consider it psychological abuse against AN," Retno added.
She said that, instead of expelling AN, the school could have provided assistance and education on appropriate interaction with fellow students of the opposite sex, since it was normal for middle school students aged between 13 and 15 years to begin expressing their attraction toward one another.
"Befriending students of the opposite sex, as well as sending them birthday wishes, are integral parts of the transition to being a teenager," Retno said. (rfa)