Students burn tyres at Jakarta rally demanding tuition fee relief

CNN Indonesia – July 2, 2020
Students protesting in front of Education Ministry in Central Jakarta – July 2, 2020 (CNN)

Jakarta – Hundreds of students from the Jakarta United Student Movement (GMJB) Alliance held a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Education and Culture (Kemendikbud) building on Jl Jenderal Sudirman in Central Jakarta on Thursday July 2. They were calling for a 50 percent reduction in single tuition fees (UKT) during the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to CNN Indonesia’s observations during the demonstration, traffic on Jl Jenderal Sudirman in front of the Kemendikbud offices became congested because only one lane was available for passing vehicles.

Initially the protest action was held on the shoulder of the road but several hours later, at around 3.20 pm, the students began closing of the road and burning tyres, leaving only one lane open for traffic.

“We’ve closed the road [but this] doesn’t harm Indonesian society, comrades. But it’s our problematic education [system] which is harmful, comrades”, said one of the speakers from atop of the command vehicle.

The speaker also asked that the demonstrators tighten their ranks but still maintain health protocols. The distance between participants appeared to less than one metre and several protests ignored health protocols by not wearing masks.

Dozens of police officers could also be seen guarding the protest action and a crowd dispersal (raisa) vehicle was on standby near the demonstrators. In addition to this, several water cannon vehicles and Barracuda armored vehicles were also at the ready.

During the protest action the students demanded that Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim personally meet with them in front of the office. They were demanding that the government reduce the single tuition fee.

Earlier, Makarim issued Ministry of Education and Culture Regulation (permendikbud) Number 25/2020 on Stipulations for Adjusting Single Tuition Fees. Makarim said that the policy is intended to provide relief to students in the midst of the corona virus pandemic.

“We have issued a permendikbud which provides UKT relief under our authority, namely PTN [state universities], to reduce the UKT for students”, said Makarim during a teleconference on Friday June 19.

In addition to this, the ministry has also reallocated 1 trillion rupiah in finds for reducing student’s financial burden during the corona pandemic. Makarim said that this assistance will be divided among 410,000 students, particularly those at private tertiary education institutions. (mjo/pmg)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Demo Mahasiswa Tuntut Keringanan UKT, Jalan Sudirman Macet”.]