Schools in Tangerang run on debt amid de­lay in BOS funds

The Jakarta Post - - CITY -

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.

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