The facts on Education in Indonesia

Education curriculum in Indonesia has been changed several times. On this year of 2013, the curriculum will be changed with an integrative thematic concept applied to elementary, junior high, high school, and vocational school. In November, Indonesia’s deputy minister of education, Musliar Kasim, explained that changes in the Indonesian educational system curriculum was an absolute necessity because, “Right now many students don’t have character, tolerance for others, empathy for others.” The need for augmentation was in response to concerns that students were becoming overwhelmed with the workload, and that instances of student violence were increasing as a consequence. Government officials asserted that students needed to learn how to become better citizens and that it could only be achieved by instilling character and a greater sense of morality.

To prepare for the implementation of the new curriculum, the ministry would give teachers 52 hours of training, as well as mentoring sessions during the first few months of the 2013/2014 academic year. Separately, Retno Listyarti, the chair of the Jakarta Teachers Discussion Forum (FSGI), said that 52 hours of training would not be enough to prepare teachers for the new curriculum. It would be very hard to instruct and force teachers to apply this new curriculum, with the hope of teaching about heterogenous society from math.
The new curriculum could be used to improve religious tolerance as education should not only make people smart but also to train Indonesians to be mentally tough, physically healthy, tolerant and willing to live in harmony with others with different religions, race, and tribes. We are educating people not only to make them smart but also to produce Indonesians who are mentally tough, physically healthy, tolerant and willing to live in harmony with others of different religion, race, and tribe.
The proposal to eliminate dedicated science and social studies classes has led to an outcry among parents and educators who worry that it could lead to a dumbing down of the country and make it less competitive. Indonesia, a vast archipelago with more than 240 million people, has one of Asia’s fastest growing economies. Its attempt to improve its manufacturing and service industries is tied to its efforts to produce more skilled workers. Officials in the trade and manpower ministries have urged more training in areas like computer science.
On the other hand, Critics say the proposed changes will take the country in the opposite direction. One says that Indonesia is going to have a lost generation. It’s going to mean fewer researchers, less technology development. It’s Indonesia entering the Dark Ages. Some teachers say that science and social studies are practical classes that teach children to ask questions, identify problems and find solutions. They would be difficult to integrate into other instruction. Children learn to understand new things through science because It stimulates their spirit to learn, their curiosity.
One criticism of the proposed changes is that they overlook more crucial reforms needed in the education system.
In much of rural Indonesia, teachers often fail to turn up to school, local administrations do little to monitor the quality of instruction, and books are dated or inadequate. Education experts say that many teachers lack basic knowledge about the current curriculum and are ignorant of the fact that they are allowed to develop their own course plans. Even in cities like Jakarta, schools in poor neighborhoods lack resources and well-trained teachers. Teachers need to be better trained on how to implement the current curriculum and teach religion in a way that is not dogmatic. A report released in November by Pearson and the Economist Intelligence Unit, which ranked national education systems, placed Indonesia at the bottom of its list of 40 countries.
But officials who back the proposal say that the government has a responsibility to prepare children to be better citizens, which means providing them with them moral and religious instruction.
Indonesians are religious people, they are very much attached to their religious teachings, their religious values. That is why religion must be taught in school. Some lawmakers on the House of Representatives commission overseeing education and youth affairs agree that prayer and worship should be promoted in school.
But critics of the proposal do not think that a curriculum overhaul is the answer. Some teachers worry that government and religious leaders are oversimplifying the problem and are using terms like “character building” and “morality” to justify more religious education.
Indonesia has set aside 171 billion Indonesian rupiah, or almost $18 million, to draft a new curriculum, but many worry that the money will be wasted if attention is not put toward improving the education system as a whole. To change the curriculum means that you have to train the teachers and to provide the book. Indonesia is a very big country. Change is not as easy as flipping hands.
But the government has defended the changes to the curriculum by arguing that they are trying to simplify a school system that has been criticized for overwhelming elementary students with too many subjects.