Publisher Apologizes, Will Withdraw Racy Student Workbook
Lenny Tristia Tambun
The publisher behind a controversial workbook for second graders which contains a story about a mistress has agreed to immediately withdraw the book from students’ hands, officials said on Friday.
Agus Suradika, the deputy of the Jakarta Education Office, said the book’s publisher CV Media Kreasi, came to his office on Friday to apologize.
“They have admitted their mistake and apologized to the Jakarta Education Office,” Agus said. “This is wonderful, considering the book’s publisher and author came personally.”
The workbook, part of the Jakarta Cultural Environment Education subject, features the story “Bang Maman From Kali Pasir,” which the publisher claims to be a Jakarta tall tale.
The story is about a fruit trader, Maman, who is trying to separate his daughter, Ijah, from her husband Salim by asking another character, Patme, to pretend to be Salim’s second wife.
Maman does so because Salim, formerly rich, went bankrupt. The story ended with Ijah fighting with Patme and becoming angry with Salim.
Intan Budi Utoyo brought attention to the issue after her 8-year-old daughter asked her what a “mistress” was one night.
Intan posted the incident on her Facebook page, generating an uproar on social media and throughout online discussion groups.
Concerned parents immediately lambasted the book’s content with child advocates calling it inappropriate for children.
Agus said his office would not sanction the publisher or schools which use the workbook, opting instead to enact stricter regulations on how schools select their teaching materials.
The Ministry of Education is authorized to monitor reading materials used for regular subjects, but special subjects such as local culture are left at the discretion of each school.
Agus said that even for special subjects, books should be at least examined by education experts on respective fields.
“The Jakarta Education Office is encouraging education experts and independent bodies concerned about education to give their assessment on books,” he said. “They can examine them from their wording, all the way to the content.”
Agus said his office was drafting a regulation banning schools from using books which were not endorsed or examined by such experts.
“We will create regulations for local subjects’ reading materials used in schools, starting at the elementary level and going to high school. These regulations will serve as guidelines for schools to choose the best books for their students,” he said.