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Education Fees in Bali

Free schools in Bali?

My father needs a lot of money now for the school fee of my two little sisters. I am the second child in my family and still in the Junior High school. My older sister now studies in Java, to be a nurse. Komang Lia, the third child, has now become a grade one student, the new comer in an elementary school, and at the same time, Ketut Erliana, the forth child, this year will enter the kindergarten school. My father has registered both of them.

Last night I heard my father talked to my mother that he needed more money to cover the registration fee and the additional payment for my little sisters. He has paid 440,000 rupiah as the entrance fee in SD 347 Banjar Jawa Singaraja for Komang Lia, and she only got sport uniform and the emblems of the schools. The white red uniform and scout uniforms should be paid an prepared by the parents. Of course not only the uniform, she needed also socks, shoes, school bags, stationary, and others. My father does not know yet the amount of school fee that should be paid in that elementary school. He predicted about 30,000 rupiah, more or less.
While Ketut Erliana, was registered in a private kindergarten school, TK Mutiara. That school is a foundation, including kindergarten, elementary school and Junior High school. My mother is one of the teachers in the Junior High School in that foundation.

It is unwritten policy that if a teacher registers their children in that foundation, they will be given discount. And it gave fresh air to my father. But still, there are some things should be bought for the school equipment for my two little sisters and the transportation fee to deliver and pick them up every school day.
Why do the parents still pay education fee, while the government gave subsidy to each student through BOS program? That question was not only uttered by my father, but by many other parents. BOS is Biaya Operasional Siswa or an operational fee for the students. Each state school student receives this fee, but the subsidy is not given in the form of money. The government of this regency may have reason for this situation, but if it is for the welfare of the community, why this local government does not learn from other regency for any changes? Many parents also ask why Buleleng regency cannot make the students free from the school fee as what happen in Jembrana regency.

My father has told me that all levels of schools in Jembrana are free. The students do not pay a cent for the lesson, books and many things.

I heard the discussion of my father and my uncles one day in front of my house. They talked about politics. I don’t understand much about politic but I like hearing their discussion. In that discussion I caught that one of the regent candidates in the general regent election on June 12th proposed the free education fee program for all levels students in Buleleng regency. This statement received good response from the society since it was as what expected by many people in this regency. But then they talked about the regent, who is now replaced by his deputy because he became the regent candidate again, stated that the local government has tried to lighten the school fee and managed the fund form BOS program as effective as possible.

He emphasized that the local government has conducted cross subsidy from the richer students to the poorer students and the totally free school fee condition was hard to be realized if the regency would like to improve the education quality. The discussion ended without any conclusion, but I know, my father, uncles, and many other parents hope the best for the education and the society welfare in this regency.

This story is from the Buleleng regency. Jembrana regency in Bali elected their new regent in 2000, and since then the region has undergone an amazing transformation. Under the leadership of I Gede Winasa, a dentist, Jembrana now enjoys free primary and secondary education for all pupils in all public schools, free health care and hospital services for all citizens and tax-exemptions for farmers.

While the policy in Jembrana is very popular amongst the people, the financial sustainability has raised questions:

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