'Study curfew' to keep kids off streets

'Study curfew' to keep kids off streets
Children studying in a Kampung Bonang community hall in central Jakarta during the study hours from 7pm to 9pm on a weeknight.

INDONESIA - At 7pm every weeknight, Mr Dadang paces the narrow lanes of Kampung Bonang in central Jakarta and sounds his loudspeaker's sirens.

Residents don't panic.

On cue, children armed with backpacks file out of their homes and head to the village community hall. They whip out schoolbooks and pencils with one mission - to study.

"This is a call to my beloved children, that between 7pm and 9pm, the study curfew is in effect. May you become clever children, disciplined and focused," Mr Dadang yells through the loudspeaker at every 50m, as he is trailed by parent volunteers on study patrol.

This novel scheme to get children to hit the books began this month after Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo enforced a little-known district regulation, in place since 2006, requiring children to stay indoors and study.

The move was to curb a growing number of student brawls and keep children from loitering in groups along the streets at night.

The Jakarta municipal government's head of education, Mr Taufik Yudi Mulyanto, says the scheme is on trial in 10 districts and will apply to young people ranging in age from just seven to 18 years old.

For a country whose young people - those under 24 make up nearly half its 250 million population - are seen as a large draw for foreign investors, such grassroots moves are crucial in nudging children to adopt the studying habit early to eventually raise the quality of the workforce to meet demands of rising investments.

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