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Housewives protest privatisation, demand free school books

Detik.com - July 24, 2008

Ari Saputra, Jakarta – Rather than satisfying parents, the free downloading of school books from the internet appears instead to have resulted in around 50 housewives demonstrating at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in Central Jakarta on Thursday July 24. They were demanding the free distribution of school books.

The housewives brought a number of posters containing the demands on the government such as “Books are expensive these days, we’re tired okay” and “Free books would make us smile”.

They also unfurled two 10x20 metre white banners filled with hundreds of supporters’ signatures and the demand “Revoke National Education Ministerial Decree Number 2/2008 that legalises the privatisation of books for education”.

The protesters said that the free downloading of school books will not be able to be accessed by all layers of society and will be ineffective and demanded that the sale of books, particularly school books be made free.

“Only 7 percent [of the people] have access to the internet. That is students in urban areas. This does not reach remote villages,” said one of the action coordinators from Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW), Ade Irawan, at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout on Thursday.

According to Irawan, privatisation will only kill off small-scale publishers. The education sector should also not become deregulated because small-scale publishers are already monopolised by the big publishing companies. This conflicts with the spirit of school autonomy", added Irawan.

Following the protest action at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout, the demonstrators plan to hold speeches at the Department of Education office in (ptr/ana)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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