School teachers take a competence test online at SMA Negeri 68 state high school in Central Jakarta last year. The government conducted the test to find the skills profile of teachers. (JP/P. J. Leo)
Teachers reveal that the real problem in Indonesian education is the poor quality of the country’s teachers.
This is because teachers, mainly those in elementary schools, rarely participate in training to update their skills and knowledge.
Retno Listiyarti of the Indonesian Teachers Union Federation (FSGI) said the government should schedule a longer preparation period before implementing Curriculum 2013. Both England and Singapore, she said, spent three years in preparing, doing trial runs and evaluating their new curriculums before applying them.
“I heard that the government plans to create 40,000 national instructors in a limited time period. How can that be possible? Even UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund] spent five years creating 10,000 similar teachers in Indonesia,” she said.
Retno cited Education and Culture Ministry data that showed that 62 percent of elementary school teachers nationwide had not undertaken any training at all, including those teachers who were about to retire.
“By way of comparison, a teacher in Singapore is obliged to take 100 hours of training per year,” said Retno.
Amid such conditions, Retno, who is also a high school teacher in Jakarta, said that she considered the government’s plan to implement the new curriculum an impossible mission.
“The new curriculum applies a ‘thematic and integrated’ approach, which we already have in the current curriculum [implemented in 2006]. The concept is not working in the country, especially in remote areas, because teachers there don’t have the skills or supporting materials to adopt such an approach,” she said, adding that the new curriculum would become yet another of the ministry’s paper tigers.
“The upcoming curriculum is going to be another document on the shelf, and it won’t be perfectly implemented across the country.”
Education and Culture Minister Mohammad Nuh said that around 49,000 teachers from 30 percent of the 148,000 elementary schools nationwide would be participating in a national training on how to implement the new curriculum, according to reports by Antara news agency.
The training, which will total 52 hours, comprises 33 hours of face-to-face sessions and 19 hours of mentoring sessions.
Deputy Education and Culture Minister for Education Musliar Kasim said that his team had been working on producing teachers’ guidance books, which underwent a massive print run on March 17.
Itje Chodidjah believes the government must be very careful in its selection of trainers, should it insist on implementing the new curriculum within the next four months.
“Let’s just say that the implementation is a done deal. The next important thing is for the government to select master trainers in this limited time,” she said.
The government, said Itje, has to be certain that it can find highly qualified national instructors who really understand how to impart the new curriculum’s concept to the master trainers.
“Furthermore, the government must also ensure that the master trainers have the ability to swap concept language with functional language when they deliver the curriculum concept to teachers who have varying levels of ability,” she explained.