A high school student in Bali has been caught on CCTV stealing money from a temple donation box. The 16-year-old female student, who is being reported in local media by her initials ESP, was caught on CCTV on Tuesday 21st June.
ESP was caught stealing the sesari (donation box) at Dalem Telepud Temple, Tegalalang District, in Gianyar Regency. Police have told reporters that they are handling this case in a ‘peaceful’ way since ESP is a minor. They are also taking into consideration her motive, she claims to have taken the money to pay for her school tuition fees.
The Head of the Tegalalang Police, AKP I Ketut Sudita confirmed that his department was looking into the incident and working in partnership with the Pujung Banjar (village government). Sudita explained how his criminal investigation unit had examined the CCTV footage and managed to identify the suspect as ESP.
They then located ESP and called her in for questioning. It was easy to narrow down a list of potential suspects as ESP was wearing her school uniform at the time. The Tegalalang Police are said to have also approached the school to help identify the thief.
Explaining the events as they unfolded in a press release, AKP Sudita said ‘’We immediately searched for information on a student who entered the school. From there, we found out the identity of the student who entered the temple area to take sesari by breaking the sesari box made of glass’’.
They tracked ESP down at her home and called her in for questioning. Although ESP stole a comparatively small amount of money, the police and temple management team are taking the matter seriously. To steal money that has been donated to a temple is deeply offensive no matter the intentions behind the theft.
AKP Sudita went on to explain ‘”During the interrogation, the person concerned admitted her actions. The amount of money taken was IDR 170,000 (USD 11). After taking the sesari, the perpetrator went straight to her school to pay the debt of tuition fees’.
Since ESP is still a minor the authorities are taking this as an opportunity to start a conversation about theft and morals. All parties are hopeful that this will be a lesson learned for young ESP. Neither the police, the temple management nor the Pujung Banjar is pressing charges against ESP.
It is thought that the shame of being caught may be sufficient in preventing her from choosing theft again. It has not been shared publicly if ESP will receive any kind of financial support to ensure that she can continue her schooling with less financial stress.
Indonesia’s schooling system states that primary school and junior high school are compulsory for all children. This is for grades one to nine. Therefore public primary school in Indonesia is free for all children, and there are private schooling options for every grade.
As is the case in many parts of the world, there are free government schools, private schools, and then international schools in Indonesia. Although government primary schools offer free tuition parents or carers must pay for a uniform and other related costs.
High school is not free and tuition fees range from region to region and are generally based on the quality of the school. The cost of tuition fees also increases by grade. The average cost of a year of high school tuition in Indonesia is between USD 190-400. The minimum wage for Bali as assigned by the central government is IDR 2,516,971 (USD 170), this means that a double-income minimum wage family would struggle to fund high school for their child.
Many families in Bali are struggling financially in light of the pandemic. Although much of the workforce has returned to work, many small businesses and self employed people in the tourism sector are pinning their financial hopes on a successful peak season in the coming weeks.
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