Fixing Indonesian Education System is a Must

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By: T. Nugroho Angkasa

As said at the preamble of the Indonesian Constitution 1945, one of four objectives of the Republic of Indonesia (RI)’s declaration of independent on 17 August 1945 is to intellectualize the life of this beloved nation. Therefore, 20 percent of the total State Budget is used to fix the education sector from Sabang (Sumatera) to Merauke (Papua). Even in 2013 the nominal is reaching IDR 331 trillion.

Ironically, the national education system is still chaotic. It seems to be built without any designs from the level of elementary education up to the college level. It also can even be observed from the physical building, there are still many children who are forced to learn in a rickety shack. I cannot agree more to the opinion of Soegeng Sarjadi that the national education policy in this country is not intellect, has no standards, and has not been civilized yet. Moreover, while it was compared with Cornell University, Oxford University, Sorbonne University, etc. It is like heaven and earth.

That Founder of Soegeng Sarjadi Syndicate (SSS) also criticized the minister often change the national curriculum. It is as the result of education that does not have a heart, because of the existing of personal ego. Moreover, education costs too expensive. It’s an ironic while the country’s educational institutions are becoming like the private tuition. The learning process also tends to torture rather than encourage the students. In the past, the School of the People (SR, Sekolah Rakyat) all children were asked to sing together the nationalities songs in a joyful way.

The previous education minister, Daoed Joesoef who has a visionary concept was thrown from bureaucracy system. Once he had served as Minister of Education and Culture during 1978-1983. Ironically, nowadays the national education budget is used to finance the policy without any certain concept. It is no wonder if there are so many irregularities. For instances the policy of UN (Ujian Nasional or National Exam), the changes of Curriculum 2006 to 2013, and the Teacher’s Certification program. Across Indonesia, there are 70,000 villages. If every village accept IDR 1 billion – so the total IDR 70 trillion per year of the IDR 331 trillion total budget – we are  no longer threatened our future generation learning under the almost falling roof.

I absolutely agree with Harry Tjan Silalahi’s opinion which highlights the importance of the role of the teacher. According to that director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), there are only two professions in this world, the builders and the educators. He also emphasized that every person should be an educator. He/she can the head in the office, parents at home, or even a public figure in the community. Therefore, in the Declaration of Independent of the Indonesian Republic, education was becoming one of the four founding fathers’ goals. It is just like a jewelry, intellectualizing the life of this beloved nation is the most shining and precious jewelry among others.

Harry Tjan Silalahi interprets the nature of education as an effort to be a perfect man/woman or to be a comprehensive human being. Ironically, in this reform era the quality of the national education was declined drastically. One of the reasons is because the politicians are not ready but still was appointed as a minister by the president. It is quite differences with Daoed Joesoef who had been prepared by a comprehensive studying at the Sorbonne University long before he was asked to become the Education Minister in the Cabinet Development III.

To the point Harry Tjan Silalahi also has ever criticized current Education Minister, Mr. Mohammad Nuh for he did not want to keep in touch with the private sector. FYI, in Indonesia there are more than 3,000 private universities. Nowadays, the private parties are treated like a cane, it was used and then was thrown away.  Indeed, without friendship, cooperation, and heart, a national education will remain go no where.

Future Investment

Sulastomo, from “Straight Way Movement” (Gerakan Jalan Lurus), reminded that education is an investment for the future. The result can be felt in the next 10-15 years. Conversely, if we are still indifferent watching the chaotic systems nationwide, as well as the bad effects shall be felt in the next 10-15 years. One generation of Indonesian people could be lost.

Moreover, he also explained the link between education and the human psyche. The best education system in the world is Finland. They paid high attention to early childhood education, because from the age of 0-12 years, the human brain is still open and receptive to the new values. Therefore, the Finland’s government allocates 25 percent of their national budgets for early childhood education. One of their concerns is to develop a reading habit to elementary school students. As a result, at the level of high school and college, they have already known what is best for them and they can find references through extensive reading materials.

Sulastomo also criticized the National Examination (UN, Ujian Nasional) program. Is the budget for UN comparable enough with the results? Though it has been a common secret that there are leakage of the answer and chaotic in some areas of distribution. It would be nice if the UN’s budget being used to train the teachers of elementary through high school, improving the student learning facilities, building libraries, providing high quality books, etc. Those efforts can be undoubtedly more optimal in the result.

He also cited reports from Al-Jazeera news on February 22, 2013. Education in Indonesia was coming into the international spotlight. A program named “101 East” has been held some deep investigations. They then reviewed it in an article, the title is “Educating Indonesia”.  They investigated to know why the education system in Indonesia was ranked 40, the lowest in the world! We seemed to go back to the Stone Age. In fact, in the era of the free market, foreign schools will also coming to Indonesia. Since, we are bound by the agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and could not resist it at all.

As a solution, reading habit should be well improved. Recent research proved that the library is one source of the effective learning. About 1/3 part of the learning process is in that place. Even, if the members of the People House of Representative are diligently reading, they do not need to study in comparison abroad. Why? Since they can simply read in the library and browse the information via internet. In this context, improving reading habit and literacy of Information Technology (IT)  are extremely urgent for the students.

One simple policy can be reapplied by the Indonesian government. At the time while Daoed Joesoef still become the Education Minister, he required every student who passed the study to donate one book for their school library. He also built the library for the community. In the rural areas, there was a library in a ship traveling everyday to the remote villages to lend some books.

Last but not least, Soegeng Sarjadi also took an initiative to set up a library at Bantar Gebang district. From a place that seems to be dirty could bear some intelligent and broad-minded generations. Similarly, the Indonesia Teaching program (Indonesia Mengajar) https://indonesiamengajar.org/ which was initiated by Anies Baswedan. Thousands young executives left their comfort at the city and voluntarily working in some remote areas from Sabang to Merauke. They learned from the grassroots as well as sharing some inspirations. Indeed, those simple but concrete steps are like some candles in the darkness.

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Footnote: This opinion article has been submitted by the Author to the ASPENSI Committee on Tuesday, 2 July 2013.

T. Nugroho Angkasa, S.Pd. is Contributing Author at Indonesian Education Online Magazine http://mjeducation.co/ , living in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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