Budi Sutrisno, Jakarta – A video made by students of SD Samudrajaya 04 state elementary school in Samudrajaya village, Tarumajaya district, Bekasi regency, West Java, in which they publicly requested the help of officials to have their school repaired, has gone viral on social media.
The video was uploaded to Instagram account @bekasi_24_jam, and shows a group of elementary school students wearing their Friday scout uniforms, with their badly damaged school in the background.
"Assalamualaikum, [...] honorable heads of our subdistrict, district, regency and the Education Agency, please fix my school because it is seriously damaged and unfit for learning," said sixth-grade student Chelsea Al-Fahriyadi
The school has two buildings, all of which are poorly maintained. The ceilings have many holes in the corridor areas and the frames of the buildings look fragile and ready to collapse.The ceramic floors of the classrooms are cracked in many places, exposing the land beneath. The windows are badly damaged as some glass plates are no longer attached.
The toilets are stuffy and dirty and the tap water is off, so that the students usually use the toilet in the warung in front of the school, or wait until they return home.
Although the school has yet to receive improvements, teaching and learning activities continue as much as possible. Even during the rainy season, the damaged ceilings do not discourage the students from studying when the rain hits.
Despite being located only about an hour from Jakarta, the condition of the Bekasi school is very different from those in the neighboring capital city.
Principal Adi Siswanto said his anxiety went up every time it rained, as he was worried that heavy rainfall, as hit Greater Jakarta recently, would someday make the roof of the school collapse and fall on the students.
"If it rains heavily, the children are transferred to classrooms that do not leak. But if this is not possible due to the learning activity or the capacity of the room, we will just send the students home instead," Adi told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
Adi said the school received School Operational Assistance (BOS) funds of around Rp 186 million (US$13,620) per year. However, he added, the funds were mostly used to aid poor students, who each received Rp 800,000 annually.
"The funds are not enough for us to make an independent large improvement. If only one tile was needed, we could do it ourselves," Adi said, adding that the school had been in a very poor condition since 2014.
The school had submitted a request for assistance to the local administration, but there had been no concrete action to date, Ali said.
In response, Bekasi Education Agency head Carwinda said the renovation of the school was indeed urgent as the condition was now alarming and it would be a priority in the city's 2020 development plan.
Carwinda added that his agency, however, could not decide when to start because the construction was under the authority of the Public Works and Spatial Planning Agency.
An education researcher from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Anggi Afriansyah, said he felt concerned that even in areas adjacent to the country's capital, school buildings were not suitable for study.
"The fact that these students submitted their complaint through a video shows that the local administration's education monitoring mechanism is not working," Anggi said.