Schools in Tangerang run on debt amid delay in BOS funds
Authorities at all elementary and junior high schools in Tangerang, a satellite city in the western part of Greater Jakarta, have to rack their brains as funds from the Banten administration for the last two trimesters have yet to be disbursed.
The so-called school operational aid (BOS), which is necessary to help schools cover their operational expenses, such as electricity bills, extracurricular activities, contract teacher salaries and the procurement of equipment, should have been paid out in July and October, namely at the beginning of the third and fourth trimester of the year. The funds for each trimester amount to Rp 254 billion (US$18.8 billion) to support operations of around 500 state elementary and junior high schools in the city.
Many of the schools are forced to borrow money or cut their programs to reduce their expenditure as a result of the tardiness in the disbursement, which, according to the Tangerang Education Agency is the worst in recent years.
SMP 23 state junior high school in North Panunggangan in Tangerang, for instance, has had to postpone the planned procurement of laptops that were intended to serve at its digital library as a means for multimedia-supported learning. The school also had to scrap programs for teacher training and students’ extracurricular activities, which aim to enhance their capacity, the school’s vice principal, Salim Yahya, said on Thursday.
“We try to minimize the effect [of the late disbursement of funds] by adjusting our programs. The most important thing is that activities can run as usual and that all teachers are afforded their basic rights,” he said, adding that the school had 18 contract teachers and more than 1,200 students.
Apart from the BOS funds, which are disbursed by the provincial administration, state schools also receive money from city or regency administrations, namely education operational funds (BOP). Salim said that to deal with the delay in the BOS fund disbursement, the school often used the BOP funds to cover its expenses.
A staff member with SMP 11 state junior high school, who wishes to remain anonymous, said the lateness of the fund disbursement was a burden on the school and had forced them to borrow money to cover operational expenses.
“It is common that we borrow money from school cooperatives to cover the expenses and pay it back after the funds are disbursed,” he said.
Tangerang Education Agency head Abduh Surahman said that borrowing money was one of the options for schools to cover their operational needs.
He claimed the Tangerang administration had completed the necessary paperwork related to the BOS fund disbursement and said the funds could be disbursed immediately.
“As far as I remember, the fund disbursement in the past was rarely on time. However, this wait is too long, even up to four months,” he said, adding that an official with the provincial administration had contacted him and promised that the funds would be disbursed within a week.
He said the delay in paying out the funds could severely affect schools, because they had to pay monthly bills that could not wait.
“I am concerned about the contract teachers’ salaries, because the BOS funds is where their salaries come from,” he said, adding that there were thousands of low-paid contract teachers in the city.