SP/Natasia Christy Wahyuni
An International Standard School student has decided to drop out after being bullied by his rich schoolmates for being poor.
Andi Mutaqqien, an attorney from the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam), said the child’s parents had complained that the school, which is dominated by students from well-off families, had created such wide cultural and lifestyle gaps between rich and underprivileged students that it became difficult for the poor students to blend in.
“The student’s parents said that the rich students seem to automatically control the school and dominate most situations, while poor students are left to deal with the pressure,” the attorney said over the weekend. “Then there’s also a problem with teachers who tend to be materialistic and discriminatory.”
A parent of the seventh grader at an International Standard School (RSBI) in Tegal, Central Java, said the insults received by their child made it difficult for the child to remain attentive in class. The student quit school because of the stress.
Andi said the student was frequently intimidated and humiliated with hurtful remarks that were addressed directly or through social networking sites.
Such insults included, “Sorry, but I don’t respect people with no dignity like you!” or “We’re very happy that you’re out. Did you think it’ll make us sad? No, we’re thrilled losing someone like you!”
Andi said that the RSBI also failed to meet the government’s minimum requirement to allocate 20 percent of seats to underprivileged students. The parent said that of 168 students admitted to the school, only 5 percent were underprivileged.
Andi said that RSBIs are problematic because they breach the Constitution, which guarantees all citizens, irrespective of social status, equal rights.
“The presence of RSBI … is a form of discrimination from the state that is legalized through the law and this goes against the 1945 Constitution, Human Rights Law and the National Education System Law itself,” Andi said.
“It also goes against the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Unesco convention against education discrimination.”
Education Minister Mohammad Nuh defended RSBIs, saying they were needed for high-achieving students. He said that the flaws in the implementation of RSBI should not lead to the dismissal of the concept. “If there were flaws in the practice, then they should be fixed,” he said.