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11/23/2010 11:23
INDONESIA
Sumatra: local authorities close Catholic school without explanation
by Mathias Hariyadi

The institute is run by the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and has over 400 students, who will loose academic year if school closes. The measure has no legal basis, and the sisters have written a petition in protest sent to all authorities, including the Indonesian President.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - In the city of Kamp (province of Riau - Sumatra), more than 400 children are likely to remain without an education. City authorities want to close a Catholic school of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The decision was communicated to the sisters on Oct. 29, but so far no one has stated the real motives for the gesture and at any moment the building could be cleared.

The sisters have sent a petition to the governor of the province, the chief of police, the military commander. They have also written to the President and Parliament. Over 300 letters of protest were sent by parents to local authorities, who had previously supported the opening of the school.

Local sources tell AsiaNews that the measure has no legal basis and authorities can not prevent or suspend the educational activities in schools. The Indonesian constitution in fact allows civil foundations to build schools or educational institutions that help the State to promote education for the entire population.

The request for the establishment of the school was started in 2007, to meet the needs of the district population who for some time had been asking for an institute for their children’s education. In April 2009 the school was opened with the permission of the Indonesian Bishops" Conference, the diocese and the local authorities and placed under the supervision of the Sacred Heart Children"s Foundation (Yayasab Puteri Hati Kudus - Yphk) and led by Sister Clarent.

The source for AsiaNews says that since the early days, "the response from the population was vibrant" and in May 2009, the institute opened registrations and in 2010 presented its regular report to the local official for education. To date the institute has 465 students including 60 children in kindergarten, 176 primary and 229 in between middle and high schools."The most important issue - sources say - is that now we have to prepare the final exam for the 120 high school children to be held in 2011."

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