Konradus Epa, Jakarta
Updated: September 21, 2018 04:14 AM GMT
Contract teachers in Ciamis, West Java, march to demand that they be recognized as civil servants. (Photo supplied by Indonesian Contract Teachers Forum)
Catholics were among thousands of contract teachers who staged protests across Indonesia on Sept. 18 to demand a pay hike and government worker status.
They say civil service status brings benefits they should be entitled to after years of service, but the government, which is offering civil service opportunities to young graduates with little experience, is overlooking them.
According to the Indonesian Education and Culture Ministry, there are about 1.5 million contract teachers across the country.
"The Indonesian government needs to pay attention to our welfare," said Titi Purwaningsih, president of the Contract Teachers Forum.
Their demands include a raise in pay, exemption from an entrance test and upping the age limit on becoming a civil servant.
For a teacher to be certified as a civil servant they must pass an entrance test, which includes a psychological evaluation, and be under 35 years old.
There are many contract teachers over 40, but cannot not be accepted because of their age, Purwaningsih said
"We have worked hard to improve education in this country, but this has gone unrecognized by the government," she added, saying protests would grow stronger if their demands are not met.
Maria Setiyani, 37, an Indonesian language teacher in Bogor, West Java, said she and her colleagues want the government to show its appreciation for their hard work.
"I've been teaching in a private school in Bogor for 14 years. Each year since 2012 I have applied to become a civil servant teacher, and each time I have been turned down," she said.
Being a contract teacher, all she gets is about $185 per month, which is inadequate to support her family.
If she was a classified as a civil servant she could receive up to $350 per month plus an additional monthly allowance, pension fund, and health insurance.
She also said since they have been teaching for many years, they should not be required to take an exam.
"The government should hire us without restrictions," she said.
Franciscan Father Vincentius Darmin Mbula, chairman of the National Council of Catholic Education expressed sympathy for the teachers.
"It's the task of the government to seriously pay attention to the rights and dignity of these teachers," said the priest.
….As we enter the first months of 2022, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.