Juggling act for Indonesian teachers
Our increasingly complex world demands an increasingly sophisticated education system for our children, putting a greater burden on Indonesia’s teachers.
Teachers find themselves having to juggle training, a constantly changing curriculum and limited salaries.
A teacher from East Halmahera in North Maluku, Jaitun Sapil, traveled to Jakarta for a two-day seminar in the hope of learning something she could share with her students.
Sapil is the headmaster and a teacher at state-run elementary school SD Buli, and said the Tuesday seminar was one of many trainings she had attended this year.
“There are many seminars and workshops offered by the local administration and private companies every year,” she told The Jakarta Post at the seminar.
Approximately 500 teachers, mostly from Greater Jakarta, attended the seminar.
Sapil said trainings and seminars were not merely linked with school curricula, as some dealt with leadership skills and entrepreneurship.
Each training or seminar offers certificates, which are useful for teachers to enhance their resumes and help promote their careers, the teachers said.
Liawaty, an English teacher at private senior high school SMA Yudika in Bekasi, West Java, said she attended at least eight seminars or trainings per year, covering some of the costs herself . She said she did not mind paying. “I get something new from each training and seminar,” she said.
Teachers nowadays have to have knowledge of a broad range of issues, from entrepreneurship, environmental awareness, morality and financial education in addition to mastering the subjects of their classes.
The burden placed on teachers is also increasing due to the ever-changing curriculum and education system, Liawaty said.
“But I try to enjoy it,” she added.
Antonious Eka Prasetyo, another participant at the Jakarta seminar organized by ProVisi Education, a private company offering teacher training, said seminars and trainings were crucial for teachers to get promotions or increase their monthly salary.
“It is the result of the accreditation system. Teachers will ‘hunt’ for trainings or seminars to get certificates,” he said.
“The more certificates, the better chance teachers have to get promotions or increase their salary.”
Antonious, who is also headmaster at private junior high school SMP Hati Suci in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, said the low wages of teachers prompted many to moonlight.
“That is the reason for the high number of unqualified teachers in our country,” he said.
There are currently 2.7 million teachers in Indonesia.
Director general of primary and secondary education at the National Education Ministry, Suyanto, said only a million teachers met the qualification requirements, such as having a bachelor’s degree or passing the certification test.
Suyanto said 56 percent of elementary school teachers had not passed certification tests.
The teacher certification system was introduced in 2006 to improve education nationwide. In 2006 there were only 20,000 teachers eligible for certification, according to the system.
Certified teachers are entitled to certain benefits, including a monthly allowance.
The government hopes this incentive would encourage teachers to get additional qualifications, which would then improve education.
Businessman Jaya Suprana, who previously taught at a school in Germany, said at the seminar that Indonesia’s politicians lacked creative strategies to improve the quality of education.
Selected comments will be published in the Readers’ Forum page of our print newspaper.