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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Educational System in Indonesia

Monday afternoon December 24, 2007, I attended a class having a presentation time. There were five students to present their papers. However, I was attracted only to two of them. One student talked about “After graduating from senior high school, what’s next?” and the other one talked about “Deterioration of the educational system in Indonesia”. Both of them are high school students.

The first student. He mentioned three possibilities of what a person usually does:

  1. Continuing their studies to a higher level education
  2. Postponing their studies
  3. Working

Related to the second possibility, the presenter gave two reasons: There are two reasons for this: the first shocking reason (for me of course) is because someone wants to enjoy his/her life. I was wondering to find out that there were a group of people that want to “enjoy their life” after graduating from senior high school. They don’t want to directly continue studying perhaps because they are tired to study. They don’t want to face any responsibility they have to bear as students: studying, making assignments, doing examination, etc. They don’t want to work either because they are not ready yet to be responsible with their own life. Both studying and working need big responsibilities.

Life means responsibility. When we dare to live, we’ve got to dare the risk.

The second reason (very logical for me) is to save some money before continuing their study since they don’t have enough fund. Some unfortunate people cannot continue their study at once because their parents cannot afford the tuition.

For the third possibility, some people choose to work because perhaps they want to collect some money to continue their study, referring to the second possibility with the second reason. Some other people perhaps think that the diploma they get from senior high school is enough already for them to get a job with enough income for their life. Or sometimes the fact that people graduating from a higher level education do not get appropriate job so that they have to do jobs done by senior high school graduates probably makes people lazy to continue their study to college.

When I asked the presenter whether he did a research by distributing a questionnaire to find out how many percents senior high school graduates do the first, second, and third possibilities, I got a disappointing answer: he did not make that research. When I asked him the second possibility for the first reason—to enjoy life--, he mentioned his brothers and cousins did that. “They have money to directly continue their life, I assume. However, they choose to stay home and do their hobbies: such as being racer (an amateur one).”

“Will you do that later after graduating?” another teacher asked him.

“Maybe Ma’am,” was his disappointing answer. 

“Deterioration of the educational system in Indonesia” the second presenter meant was referring to the idea of the government to include six subjects in the national examination for senior high school students. For several years (I am sorry I don’t pay attention for how many years exactly), the third grade senior high school students had only three subjects tested in the national examination: English, Bahasa Indonesia, and Mathematics. They did the examination for three days. It meant they prepared only one subject for one day. While the new policy—six subjects to be tested—will comprise three days too. It means students have to prepare two subjects in one day. The presenter conveyed his doubt whether students would really have enough time to prepare it. When they don’t have enough time, it is doubted that they will not prepare it well. They will just ‘memorize’ the material to be tested without comprehending it thoroughly. Indonesia’s next generation’s quality will be decreasing.

To comment this topic, I remembered the time when I was at high school, more than twenty years ago. Majoring in “Language”, I got five subjects to be tested in the national examination while my fellow students majoring in “Science” got also six or even seven subjects to be tested. We did that also in three/four days. Minimal score to pass one subject was 6 and WE DID NOT COMPLAIN for that.

The presenter got surprised to hear this and said, “Well, Ma’am, I believe at that time you didn’t get lots entertainment so that you could concentrate well. My generation gets lotsa tempting entertainment so that it is difficult for us to concentrate only on our study.”

“I am sorry to say but you HAVE TO set your first priority for your own future!” was my response.

Talking about the educational system in Indonesia that obliges students ONLY to memorize, and not really comprehend, it has been going on for several generations. I will take one example I experienced. When studying English grammar, I learned and memorized twelve kinds of tenses, from Simple Present Tense until Past Perfect Continuous Tense. I memorized the pattern very well, I could answer questions on tenses flawlessly when those tenses were given separately. However, when I needed to use it in the daily life, mixing many kinds of tenses at once, I did not really know which was which. Memorizing the theory was done perfectly. However, applying the theory in the real life meant something else.

Referring to what Bob Sadino said about the educational system in Indonesia, (in one seminar in one city in Indonesia), he said about the human resources in Indonesia who are smart, memorizing theories perfectly, unfortunately they do not get time to apply the theories. It means those brilliant human resources are not really ready to be used at workplaces. Worse, even the teachers also do not know how to apply the theories because what they master is only the theories but not the application. When the teachers do not know, how will they teach the students?

The deterioration of the educational system in Indonesia is not simply the policy of the government to give high school students more burden in the national examination. It is more thorough and complicated.

My comment for the two presenters: they needed to prepare the papers to be presented more seriously. Their topics were interesting enough but they did not make the papers well. This is also a sign showing that there is deterioration in the quality of the graduates in the English Course where I work. (FYI, since 2003 we have used new books with more up to date topics discussed.)

BWT 10.15 261207


triesti said...

education in RI = memorizing and not teaching you about critical thinking.

A Feminist Blog said...

You are very right, Triesti, that's why Indonesian people are not accustomed to think critically. :( When I ask my students 'why' questions, they always complain. :(