Schools in Jakarta have seen a sharp rise in brawls in recent years, many of them fatal, but this week has been particularly violent. On Monday, a student reportedly stabbed to death 15-year-old Alawy Yusianto Putra, a 12th-grader at Senior High School 6. Two of his friends were seriously injured during the confrontation with a rival high school in East Jakarta. Then two days later, 12th-grade student Deni Januar was killed in another rival school brawl in an area nearby. “This is already a criminal act – manslaughter – and both principals must take preventive measures,” Deputy House Speaker Taufik Kurniawan told reporters on Monday. He called on the education minister to revamp schools as Indonesia struggles to find the cause of these deadly attacks and how to stop them. Last year, the National Commission on Child protection (KPA) recorded 26 fatalities in the capital’s schools following 139 fights. Deni Januar’s killing on Wednesday took this year’s death toll so far to 27, and with 128 fights already, it looks like the number of violent incidents is going to surpass the tally in 2011. Following this week’s killings, government officials and police have visited the schools involved seeking ways to end the rivalries among students. Yesterday police arrested Fitra Ramadhani, Putra’s alleged killer, after he fled to Yogyakarta in central Java. He was then brought back to the capital for questioning. Police have also arrested three students at Kartika Zeni School in East Jakarta in relation to Januar’s killing on Wednesday. Franciscan Father Vinsensius Darmin Mbula of the National Council of Catholic Education said that given schools have turned into battlegrounds they must also be the starting point for finding a solution to this worrying trend. School rivalries, played out through increasingly violent confrontations, have become a tradition passed down through generations of students, he said. “Schools must therefore pay serious attention to it and change their traditions through – among other things – an intensive counseling program,” said Father Mbula. Arist Merdeka Sirait, chairman of the KPA, blamed the education system which he said had created an unhealthy environment compounded by the violence children see around them every day on television and in the streets of what is one of Asia’s largest cities. “Children like to imitate what they see,” he said. Minister of Education and Culture Muhammad Nuh has tried to deflect criticism away from a focus solely on the performance of schools, adding that the violence within school gates originates with problems that start outside. “All parties – families, society and the police – must get involved,” he said.
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