Your letters: Academics and school teaching
Paper Edition | Page: 8
The Jakarta Post can always be relied on to provide interesting articles on education. What can also generally be relied on is that these articles will be written by academics, will usually be critical of government practice, will invariably recommend a single new idea as a general solution to improving the quality of education in Indonesia and will be totally theoretical.
The recent articles in the Post on Sept. 1 titled “Beware! Teachers’ critical voices being silenced” by Setiono Sugiharto and “Teachers as researchers: Is it possible in Indonesia?” by A. Chaedar Alwasilah are illustrations of this. There are indeed exceptions, for example, Anita Lie’s recent article, “Let’s get serious about nationwide teacher evaluations” is a model of informed good sense.
Whilst generating knowledge is a key academic responsibility, the school-teaching these authors write about is one of the “caring professions” aimed at developing the full potential of the children and adolescents in the school’s charge. A concern for people is thus among the good teacher’s main characteristics and concern for subject content important to the extent that teachers can enthuse students with a desire to learn more.
This is not to undervalue the ideas of academic authors, in Alwasilah’s case research based on classroom activity and for Sugiharto the role of professional associations in defending teachers’ interests. But, both articles seem to consider school teachers as essentially academics (Alwasilah’s “action research” and Sugiharto’s ‘transformative intellectuals’).
Yet since 2007, the Education and Culture Ministry has been highly and publicly explicit about the qualities it requires of teachers, qualities based on global best practice and covering personal, social, professional and pedagogic qualities. The ministry and the National Board for Standards in Education (BSNP) have produced detailed specifications of these “competencies”.
But, which of the universities responsible for educating future teachers includes aptitude testing in these four areas in their student selection procedures?
Which universities ensure that their students are equipped with these required competencies as the outcome of their study? Which universities prepare their students for the realities of teaching in low-resourced village schools or how best to help young people become useful members of society?
Given the conservative nature of higher education institutions, a five-year delay in fitting provisions to needs may be understandable. Less understandable is for academics, who choose to make public statements about the education system, to be unaware that since 2010 teacher association representatives have occupied senior management positions within the ministry’s Board for Human Resource Development in Education.
Or to question the ministry’s right to recommend redeployment of teachers, who are members of the public service, from areas of over supply to areas of need as part of their guardianship of public expenditure; or to be unaware that since 2009 the ministry has been trialling both “lesson study” and “classroom action research” in schools in 75 districts.
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