The constitution of Indonesia says that 20% of the state budget must be spent on education. This year the government is setting the unconstitutional target of 10%.
Since the constitution was ratified in 1945 the government in Jakarta has never in fact fulfilled its legal obligations in this area but, and this represents a good insight into how the law works in Indonesia, the courts have always managed to fudge the issue of the unconstitutionality of the failure to spend 20% of state finances on schooling.
Vice president Jusuf Kalla yesterday went some way to explaining kompas at least one angle of the legal fudge. He said that the government cannot be impeached for the matter because any impeachment effort must come from the parliament, and the parliament is also in breach of the law by its passing of the state budget.
Both the government and the parliament are in breach of the constitution so the government can't be impeached because both bodies are breaking the law.
(Baik pemerintah maupun DPR sama-sama melanggar konstitusi, jadi pemerintah tidak bisa di-impeach karena sama-sama melanggar.)
Kalla said that it was possible for the 20% target to be reached but only at the unacceptable expense of other areas:
For example the Ministry of Defence would lose funds, the police couldn't do their job, the roads would become damaged.
(Misalnya Dephan (Departemen Pertahanan) akan berkurang anggarannya, polisi-polisi tidak bisa jaga lagi, jalan-jalan akan rusak.)
The reports do not state whether anyone laughed at this point.
The Constitutional Court had ruled in March 2005 that the government had to bring itself into line with the 1945 constitution and since that time much noise has been heard from some quarters over the impending fulfillment of the requirement. In May of this year the speaker of parliament Agung Laksono said hukumonline that his august body had already agreed to up education's share of the budget from the present 9.1% to the required level by this year. It seems no such progress has been made however.
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati announced hukumonline yesterday that in fact the share of education in the budget would at most be increased to 10%, representing a 5 trillion rupiah hike. In explaining away the unconstitutionality of her decision she said that the Constitutional Court "understood" that the government lacked the necessary funds to fulfil its constitutional obligations.
The Jakarta Post says the Constitutional Court ruled again on May 1st 2007 insisting on the 20% share for the country's education budget. Said Jimly Asshiddiqie, the head of the Constitutional Court:
We decided the 2006 law on the 2007 state budget, regarding the maximum allocation of 11.8% of the state budget for the education sector contradicts the 1945 Constitution and therefore has no legal strength
The court has twice ruled the government was obligated to allocate no less than 20% of the state budget for education.
However the government has so far failed to meet this requirement. In 2006 the government allocated Rp 44.1 trillion for education, or 9.1% of the total national budget. This year the education fund was raised to Rp 54.06 trillion, or 11.9% of the total state budget.
The court decided that although the government had shown good will in raising the education fund between 2004 and 2007, it was still not able to meet the constitutional demand of 20%.
Mohamad Surya, chairman of the Indonesian Teachers' Union (PGRI), said he hoped the government would immediately act on the decision because the 20% should be fulfilled every year.
We want the government to comply with the Constitution and not delay it anymore.
We [teachers] know how many students are forced to leave their schools and how many school buildings collapse.
Accompanied by the five teachers and parents who filed the lawsuit, Surya argued that the current budget, which includes funding for in-service training, was inappropriate and not in line with the International Convention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) recommendations on national educational funds.
The litigants also claimed the government had failed to implement compulsory basic education, which should be fully financed by the government, as stipulated in articles 17, 31 and 34 of the Constitution.
The government's representative Paskah Suzetta, head of the National Development Planning Board, said 20% was too high a target. He said it would mean the government would have to add about 60 trillion rupiah ($6.6 billion) to the education sector's budget.
But he said the government had committed to make some efforts to meet the demands of the Constitution. Mohamad said he would earnestly try to push the government to comply with the Constitution.