Fears in Bali that the recently introduced Indonesian national education curriculum, set to be implemented in mid-2013, would remove Balinese language studies as a unique subject, have now been put to rest.
The Jakarta Post reports that a senior official at the Indonesian Education and Culture Ministry has assured that if the Balinese administration can fulfill certain requirements, the Balinese will be allowed to keep their local language in their academic curriculum.
Leader of the alliance of people concerned with preserving the Balinese language, I Nyoman Suka Ardiyasa, stated “the official at the ministry said the provincial administration can issue a special policy on maintaining Balinese language as a stand-alone subject on the curriculum, especially for schools in the province. We need a decree from the governor to manage the subject, obviously.”
Ardiyasa met with the national Education and Culture Ministry in Jakarta during the first week of April 2013. Representatives of the Bali Legislative Council and Provincial Education, Youth and Sports Agency also attended the Jakarta meeting.
A governor’s decree has been set to regulate how the language subject will be taught in schools. Details include the number of hours per week the subject will be studied and the specific requirements for teachers’ competency tests. The ministry is requesting documentation related to the current number of Balinese language teachers, the number of institutions providing a Balinese language program and a directive tothe provincial administration for a language teaching competency test.
Ministry officials denied that the certification program for Balinese language teachers would be removed. Ardiyasa commented; “They said that they are ready to hold a competency test for Balinese language teachers. But they have asked the provincial administration to provide several documents first.”
Ardiyasa added that the provincial administration must alter the 1992 bylaw on the to meet current requirements. “All requirements, except the bylaw revision, should be fulfilled soon, before the new school year begins. The revised bylaw will need more time,” he said.
“Be grateful that we could keep Balinese on the curriculum. We hope that the Bali administration will seriously fulfill all the documents required by the ministry,” Ardiyasa declared.
Head of the Bali Education, Youth and Sports Agency, Anak Agung Ngurah Gde Sujaya, confirmed that the ministry required certain documents that must be formalized by the provincial administration. “We are now working on preparing all the requirements. I hope no one worries about the existence of the language as a stand-alone subject in schools anymore. We will work fast to fulfill all the documents needed,” he said.
The concern that the study of Balinese would be dropped from the curriculum saw many Balinese students, scholars and community leaders stage protests to reject the new national curriculum, which specifies that “local content” be included into the new arts and culture classes. This would limit Balinese students from elementary to senior high school level the opportunity to learn their local language.
Bali’s Governor, Made Mangku Pastika has expressed his support for keeping Balinese language within the provincial curriculum. “It is really important to maintain the Balinese language as it is our local genius. It is extremely different from Indonesian. Balinese is the basis of our culture as it is used in our rituals, so it is really important that it is maintained,” he said.
Pastika added that he is planning to issue the gubernatorial decree as the legal basis for maintaining the subject in the Balinese curriculum. His decree will also stipulate the number of hours each week to be dedicated to Balinese language studies. “We will issue the regulation soon. I am assured that the process would not take a long time, as it only needs simple discussion. All of us, including the legislative council, have agreed to maintain our language.”
Pastika will also draft the updated bylaw on the Balinese language. The bylaw covers matters of language, letters and literature and outlines the necessity of preserving the Balinese language though education and development.
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