The Irony: Balinese script incorrect on sign posted at Jembrana schools under new decree

Signage in Balinese script at the island’s airport, erected under Governor Decree no. 80/2018. Photo: Instagram/@gubernur.bali

The signage written in Balinese script is incorrect, of all places, at a school.

One of the first acts in office of Bali’s new governor was reinvigorating Balinese heritage by decreeing the use of traditional script on government signage and public facilities.

With Governor Decree no. 80/2018, Governor Wayan Koster kicked off the new policy with the inauguration of a sign in Balinese at the island’s I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport on Oct. 5.

But signage has also since gone up in less high-profile places, like buildings used by the public school system.

A school sign in Jembrana Regency’s Mendoyo District was observed on Tuesday to have the incorrect characters. The sign, was meant to read “Office of Education, Youth, and Sports,” but the word “Youth” wasn’t right, reports Bali Post.

But it’s not just this one school. Writing errors have apparently been noticed at most schools in the Mendoyo District.

“Indeed, there are mistakes, but they are small. They will be replaced,” the newspaper quoted one of the schools’ principals as saying.

Meanwhile, head of the Jembrana Education, Youth, and Sports Agency, I Putu Eka Suarnama said that he was not aware of any mistakes in the Balinese signage, but that any errors should be fixed.

“Yes, they should be replaced, but waiting until December when the new budget is posted,” Suarnama told Bali Post.

Although everyday use of Balinese utilizes the Latin alphabet for the most part, the island’s indigenous language is traditionally written with an elaborate Brahmic-derived script natively known as Aksara Bali and Hanacaraka. Used in ceremonies and religious texts, the traditional script is deeply tied to Balinese Hindu practices.

“The aim is to preserve our cultural heritage, especially in relation to literacy, which is a cultural identity of Bali,” the governor previously said of the decree.

With all the mistakes in the signs, it appears that education in Balinese literacy is critically needed.

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