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Government threatens to close down Church-schools

The right to a proper education of over 400 children from families that migrated to Riau province in western Indonesia is currently under threat.

The children are all students in Church-run schools.

School authorities received a letter from the local government on Nov. 8 ordering the schools to be closed down, said School of Assisi headmistress Franciscan Sister Clarentia Hasugian.
School authorities have since sent copies of the letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and other officials.

The Franciscan Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary nuns had established schools based on the demand of people who live in the middle of oil palm plantations and a mining site. These people had migrated elsewhere from Indonesia to work there.

Sister Vinsensia Simbolon, the head of the foundation that established these schools, urged the local government to support the nuns in educating the children instead of closing them down.

The local government’s letter violates children’s rights according to Law No. 23/2002 on child protection,” she said.

“I am really worried. But we (parents) and the nuns will fight together, since these are the only schools in the village,” said Cornelius Sidabutar the father of a student.

Currently there are 465 students studying in the schools from kindergarten to junior high school levels. Most of the students are Protestants.
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