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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs            18  July 2011

Governor promises places for low-income students

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Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo guaranteed on Sunday that 20 percent of all seats at schools in the process of attaining international standardization would be allocated to children from low-income families.

Fauzi said the policy had been introduced for the RSBI schools to ensure the higher fees charged by such institutions did not preclude students from poorer families from getting a quality education.

"I want to ensure that 20 percent of children accepted into all RSBI schools come from low-income families," he said. "So far, this policy has been implemented fairly well, so our priority is to guarantee that the quota continues to be met."

However, the governor conceded that the quota had not always been received positively, particularly in light of the huge gap between the number of seats available at the start of every school year and the number of students applying for seats.

"Let's say there are two gifted children, one from a low-income family and one from a high-income one," Fauzi said. "The one from the poorer family will be more likely to get a seat, regardless of their ability, and this has been something that a lot of parents have complained about."

He added that he had ordered an evaluation of all of Jakarta's RSBI schools.

But education activists and experts said the government's priority should be to ensure that all students receive a quality education at every school in the city.

"The government's obligation is to have all [state] schools attain a national standard," said Jumono, chairman of the Alliance of Parents Concerned About Education. "But right now no poor family will register their children at an RSBI school because they know it's expensive."

Jumono added that even though it was required by the law, most RSBI schools failed to inform parents about the 20 percent quota.

Mohammad Abduhzen, executive director of the Institute for Education Reform at Jakarta's Paramadina University, said the quota would not solve the problem of universal access to education because most schools raised fees for other students to accommodate the poorer one-fifth.


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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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