Indonesian Politician Says Science ‘Irrelevant’ in Elementary School
Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Comedian-turned-lawmaker Dedi Gumelar on Friday aired his support behind the government’s move to erase science and social science from the curriculum of elementary schools.
Dedi argued that elementary school students should only be taught basic education.
“Elementary school is time to build character and a mind-set with an education that emphasizes patriotic values, courtesy, culture and principles of Pancasila,” the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician said.
Subjects like science, geography and social science, he said, should be taught in higher levels, while high school should provide subjects which serve as the basis for education at the university level, he added.
“That way, elementary school children won’t be forced to study as much with all of this irrelevant curriculum. Local content should also be reinforced so that we don’t lose our culture or our local language,” he said.
Dedi criticized the current curriculum as being modeled after the West, saying it “kills” Indonesian values.
“So let our education produce a civilized society, not just physicists and mathematical geniuses,” he said. “Let’s understand the values of humanity. That is the core of education.”
Dedi said Indonesia should go back to the education system adopted during Dutch colonial rule and shortly after independence, when elementary school students were only taught basic education.
“In kindergarten, learning how to count and read should be prohibited because that’s the time to play and know nature empirically,” Dedi said. “It is easy to teach children to be smart but we should teach children how to be right.”
The Ministry of Education and Culture on Thursday announced that science and social science will be taken out of the elementary school’s curriculum next year to provide children with less school time.
The ministry said that the new curriculum would emphasize basic mathematics, the Indonesian language, religious studies and patriotism.
But education observer Arif Rahman said elementary schools should still teach at least the basic concept of science and social science without focusing too much on equations and calculations.
“[Students] should know early on what the sun is,” he said.