School zoning regulations for educational equity

The Ministry of Education and Culture have recently instituted a new regulation regarding admittance of students into schools from kindergarten to senior High School level. Prospective students of public schools will now be admitted based on a zone system, defined by proximity of a household to a school.

Minister Muhadjir Effendy said the new system will be more objective, accountable, transparent, non-discriminatory and just, and will ensure equal opportunity and access to education. The new regulation also states 20% of students admitted at each school must come from lower income families. In the past students were selected based on grades or national examination results, which led to some schools being favoured over others and created what the Minister called a “caste system”.

Some have welcomed the new regulation saying it will bring many positive changes. The principal of SMAN 8 Depok said students will be able to arrive to school on time and not spend so much time and energy in traffic. Others have also stated local governments will now have to focus on increasing the quality of every school, including providing new infrastructure and equipment. However, others have expressed concerns about how the zones are defined and how it has thwarted students’ plans on entering their dream schools.

Important elements of the regulation include:

  1.  90% of students admitted to a public school must live within the school zone
  2. Zoning is based on a student’s address on their family cards (KK) issued no later than six months prior to the implementation of the new regulation.
  3. The zone radius is determined by the local government in accordance with conditions in the area, taking into consideration the number of school-aged children in the area and school capacities.
  4. The zone radius is determined by the local government with consultation with principals.
  5. For schools located in provincial/district city borders, the percentage of students admitted and zone radius can be established through written agreements between local governments.
  6. Prospective students from outside zones areas can be accepted based on academic achievements or relocation of home address or natural disaster. The maximum quota for both high-achieving and relocation groups stands at 5% of the total students admitted.
  7. The zone system is the main criteria for admittance to junior and senior high school. National exam results will be considered afterwards.
  8. At elementary level, age will be the first factor to be considered, followed by zone area.
  9. Vocational High Schools are not obligated to follow the zone system

Ella Nugraha

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