FSGI Presses Govt to Evaluate New School Curriculum
[Updated at 8:49 a.m. on Tuesday, August 6, 2013]
The new school curriculum has many abstract and irrelevant benchmarks that students cannot possibly be tested against, a teachers’ body has said as it urged the government to establish a body to scrutinize the implementation of the new syllabus.
“We call for the establishment of an independent team by Vice President Boediono,” Federation of Indonesian Teachers Associations (FSGI) secretary general Retno Listyarti said on Monday.
She added that committee members should not be officials from the Ministry of Education but instead “should be academics who are really independent and understand the 2013 curriculum.”
“This evaluation team should then provide quarterly recommendations. After one year, it should then be decided whether the curriculum will continue.”
Retno said the FSGI has sent Boediono a request to discuss the issue, though it has yet to receive a reply.
She also said her organization had sent the vice president the results of field work monitoring the implementation of the new curriculum.
The FSGI found that teachers often could not effectively measure student performance under the new curriculum because the parameters were too abstract and sometimes unrelated.
She said, for instance, that the performance target for teaching biology at senior high school level was “for students to admire and be thankful for their body’s anatomy.”
For the accounting subject in high schools, the target set by the curriculum was “for students to conduct accounting activities based on their respective religions.”
“How can teachers measure whether the students admire their own anatomy?” Retno said. “And for accounting, how is it possible to use religious principles? What if my religion prohibits usury but others don’t? What then?”
Retno added that the government should have included personal or character values in the curriculum via strategies based on individual schools’ culture.
The FSGI has also urged Education Minister Muhammad Nuh to revoke all regulations pertaining to the 2013 curriculum.
“We are still awaiting the response from the minister. We will wait for 14 working days, and if no agreement is reached, we are ready to file a demand for a judicial review to the Supreme Court,” Retno said.
She added that she hoped the minister would discuss the curriculum because both FSGI and the Legal Aid Institution (LBH) had found significant flaws in it.
The discussion, she said, should be facilitated by an objective third party.
In response to the request, Nuh said the issue should be resolved internally within the ministry, and also in accordance with academic principles. He said he was ready to listen to people’s views on the curriculum. “We believe this is an academic domain, so a discussion or debate would be fitting, even if it gets heated. That’s OK,” Nuh said.
The ministry has conceded that there were flaws in the implementation of the curriculum, and so it is planning a 2013 Curriculum Census to start later this month.
Early in the curriculum’s implementation, several schools reported an excess in books and others a shortage. The imbalance was caused by poor quality data and the sudden decision by some schools to participate in the program, the ministry said previously. Some teachers appeared unprepared to teach the new curriculum.
Nuh said the ministry’s decisions had to be based on facts. “It cannot be based on ‘I think the new curriculum has been going well’ or ‘I think the new curriculum isn’t going so well.’ There has to be data for everything,” he said, as quoted by JPNN.com.
Nuh said he has summoned leaders in the State Educational Quality Control Agency (LPMP), an institution that works with the ministry on a provincial level, to assist with the census.
Nuh said the LPMP played a key role in monitoring the implementation of the new curriculum.
The census will involve officers from the team interviewing relevant people about the curriculum, including students, teachers, principals, supervisors and parents. He said that experts will not be included as sources in the census.
Nuh said he was confident the census would gather insights on the curriculum implementation , including the quality of books, teachers’ training and learning materials.
The minister said he wanted the census results by October, with data to be made available to the public.
The new school curriculum, launched last month, cut the number of subjects taught in a day and dropped science, English-language and social studies courses in favor of Indonesian language classes, nationalism and religious studies.
Nuh said the new curriculum will benefit future generations of Indonesians by developing their sense of morality and social responsibility, though he failed to convince critics.
Yohanes Surya, a prominent physicist, said the move away from science and English-language studies during early schooling would hurt Indonesia’s ability to compete internationally and would impact profoundly on those who could not afford private tuition.
The new curriculum will be introduced over three years, starting with students at 6,400 schools in selected grades this year.
The government trained about 60,000 teachers across the nation before the implementation to ensure they were ready to teach the new curriculum, but many said the training was only cursory, leaving teachers unprepared.
“To be honest, I am not ready. Participating in the training did not give me the full substance [of the curriculum],” said a math teacher from the State Middle School 8 in South Tangerang, as quoted by Republika.com, who added that the training did not seem reliable.
In a 2009 Program for International Student Assessment study, of 74 countries Indonesia ranked 68th in student performance in mathematics, 66th in science and 62nd in reading.