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Dawn school trial for sleepy teens sparks outrage in Indonesia

KUPANG, INDONESIA: Every early morning in a town in far eastern Indonesia, sleepy teenagers can be seen stumbling through the streets reluctantly like zombies on their way to school.

It’s not a scene from some cheesy sci-fi offering, but a controversial experiment to start the day much earlier for the sleepless teenagers.

In the pilot project in Kupang, the capital of East Nusa Tenggara province, 12th graders in ten secondary schools start classes at 5:30 am.

Authorities say the program, announced by Gov. Viktor Laiskodat last month, aims to strengthen children’s discipline.

However, according to parents, their children are “exhausted” when they get home. Schools in Indonesia usually start between 7am and 8am.

Teenagers in their school uniforms are now walking the dark streets or waiting for motorbike taxis to get to school on time.

“It’s extremely difficult, they have to leave the house now while it’s still pitch black. I can’t accept that… their safety is not assured when it’s dark and quiet,” said Rambu Ata, mother of a 16-year-old, told AFP.

Her daughter Eureka now has to get up at 4am, get ready and ride her motorbike to school.

“Now every time she comes home she’s exhausted and falls asleep immediately because she’s so tired,” Ata said.

At least one scholar seems to agree.

“It’s unrelated to efforts to improve the quality of education,” Marsel Robot, an education expert at Nusa Cendana University, told AFP.

In the long term, sleep deprivation can endanger students’ health and lead to behavioral change, he said.

“They will only sleep for a few hours and this is a serious risk to their health. This will also cause them stress and they will release their stress through action.”

policy extended

A 2014 study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that middle and high school students start classes at 8:30 a.m. or later to give them enough time to sleep.

The change in the Kupang rule has also been challenged by local lawmakers, who have called on the government to repeal what they say is a baseless policy.

The government has maintained its experiment despite criticism, even extending it to the local education department, where officials now start their day at 5.30am.

Not everyone is dissatisfied with politics.

Rensy Sicilia Pelokilla, an official at the agency, told AFP that she used to be healthier because she now has to attend group exercises in her office, which she once overslept.

“As a civil servant, I am willing to comply with the ordinance and I will do my best,” Pelokilla said.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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