UCA News

Educators concerned over violence in Indonesian schools

Nearly 251 children, aged 6 to 12 years, have fallen victim to violence at schools between January and April this year

A video grab of a student being beaten up by his friends in Central Java on Sept. 27

A video grab of a student being beaten up by his friends in Central Java on Sept. 27. (Photo: Supplied)

Published: September 29, 2023 11:06 AM GMT

Updated: September 29, 2023 11:31 AM GMT

Catholic educators in Indonesia have expressed concern over increasing violence and insensitive disciplinary methods in schools despite government efforts to curb them by introducing a new law last month.

In the Christian-majority East Nusa Tenggara province, parents at a state-run elementary school in South Central Timor regency filed a police complaint on Sept. 28 against the principal for punishing his students by forcing them to lick walls and eating paper.

Such cases are "an invitation for us to rise together to overcome them," said Franciscan Father Vinsensius Darmin Mbula, chairperson of the National Council for Catholic Education, a forum for Catholic schools in the country.

The Catholic Church runs nearly 5,000 schools in Indonesia.

"All parties like the government and school principals, teachers, and parents must join hands to end these shameful practices," he added.

Indonesia has witnessed several cases of violence in schools recently.

A student at a state-run school in the Central Jawa town of Cilacap was beaten by his colleagues on Sept. 27 until his bones were broken. 

It was recorded by another student and the video went viral. Police are probing the case currently.

Last month, dozens of female students at a state-run junior high school in the East Java town of Lamongan had their heads shaved because they did not wear hijab (an Islamic veil for women).

Again last month, at an elementary school in East Java, a student had his eyesight damaged by his senior.

On June 27,  a 14-year-old junior high school student set fire to his school in Temanggung allegedly following constant bullying by his peers.

These cases are dangerous as “the perpetrators are almost all school members, both teachers and students," Father Mbula told UCA News on Sept.  29.

According to the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection, nearly 251 children, aged 6 to 12 years, fell victim to violence at schools from January to April this year. 

This series of events occurred after the government came up with the law -- Regulations on the Prevention and Handling of Violence in Educational Units -- last month.

The law is designed to help students, educators and educational staff from violence that occurs both inside and outside of the education unit, said Education Minister Nadiem Anwar Makarim.

Father Mbula stated that the government should provide technical training to teachers and principals so that violence prevention efforts can actually be implemented.

Satriwan Salim, national coordinator of a forum for teachers and lecturers said: "This series of cases is a loud alarm for national education."

He said the new government law has not been able to prevent violence in schools.

"Schools should develop ecosystems that are comfortable, healthy, conducive to children's growth and development, and safe for all school members."

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