Can We Trust All Private Schools in Indonesia?
Nita Amiruddin has two things front and center in her mind right now: making sure her daughter is prepared for her ninth-grade exams, and finding the best high school for her once she graduates.
“My daughter and I agreed that our first choice would be a state senior high,” she told the Jakarta Globe on Monday.
However, she adds they are aware of the complexity involved in enrolling in a quality public school, and thus are also eyeing private schools as alternatives.
“There are a lot of private schools in Jakarta right now, but not all of them provide the quality of education that we want,” Nita said.
“I still have time to pick the right one, but I really have to be careful about it because I don’t want to waste money — private schools are more expensive.”
She said she believed a school’s quality could be gauged through its popularity, buildings, students’ achievements, teaching process, faculty and accreditation.
For Nita and other parents, the proliferation of private high schools makes picking the right one tricky.
Data from the Education Ministry indicates that while the number of such schools has increased, so has the number non-government accredited ones.
In the 2008-09 school year, 1,655 private high schools were unaccredited, 27.7 percent of the total. A year later, that figure increased to 1,770.
Mustaghfirin, secretary of the Education Ministry’s Directorate General of Secondary Education, said accreditation was crucial in ensuring that all aspects of teaching and learning at private schools complied with the National Education Standards.
He said this included having certified teachers, a set graduation rate, community service activities and stringent administrative and management criteria.
However, Haris Supratno, an education expert and former rector of Surabaya State University, said accreditation or the lack of it was not always a good indicator of a school’s quality.
“First, some schools that are otherwise suitably qualified might not get accreditation simply because they fail to submit all the requisite paperwork for the assessment,” he told the Globe.
He also said that in some cases, school officials failed to reapply for accreditation before their current accreditation had expired.
Haris added that not all accredited schools could be assumed to meet national standards. He cited cases of school officials who put on a good show for government assessors, only to drop their standards once accredited.
Totok Supriyoto, principal of Al-Azhar Islamic Junior High in Jakasampurna, Bekasi, said attaining accreditation was fairly easy, with his school getting the top rating of “A” in 2009.
“We simply followed the criteria prescribed in the National Education Standards for curriculum, administration and school management, school facilities, faculty, finances, students, community participation and so on.”