Almost there: A school worker updates the board counting down the days to the start of the national examinations at SMP 2 junior high school in Jakarta on Saturday. Junior high school students will enter the crucible starting on Monday. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)
Possible delay is expected in next Monday’s junior high school national examination with some areas in the country’s far-flung regions yet to get the shipments of the materials.
Earlier this week, high school national examinations in 11 of the country’s total 33 provinces had to be delayed with the Education and Culture Ministry failing to deliver exam materials on schedule. Education and Culture Minister Muhammad Nuh blamed PT Ghalia Indonesia Printing, which won a tender to print and distribute exam materials for the 11 provinces, for the delay.
As of Saturday, 11 out of a total of 21 regencies in East Nusa Tenggara had yet to receive junior high exam materials, Antara news agency reported.
East Nusa Tenggara was among 11 provinces that experienced delay of the high school exam.
Another delay in shipment is also reported in Central and West Kalimantan. Kotawaringin Timur regency in Central Kalimantan and Pontianak municipality in West Kalimantan are also yet to receive distribution of the national exam.
The ministry, however, promised that the national exam for junior high would go ahead as scheduled.
An aide to Nuh, Sukemi said the junior high students, their parents and teachers should not worry about a possible delay.
“Insya Allah [God willing] the national exam for junior high students will commence as scheduled on Monday,” he said in a discussion on Saturday in Jakarta.
Sukemi, however, said that if delay happened, the ministry would be ready with a contingency plan. “And if somehow we have a delay, please do not worry as we will have a second stage of the exam.”
Teuku Ramly Zakaria of the National Education Standard Body (BNSP) also urged the children to focus on their exam instead of worrying about a possible delay.
Following the high school exam fiasco, calls have been mounting for abolishing the national exams, especially the one for high school students.
One of the calls has been made by Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, who also called on Minister Nuh to step down.
Itet Tridjajati Sumarijanto, a member of the House of Representatives Commission X overseeing education and sports, said that the national education system had too many exams that sometimes overlapped.
Students, for instance, had to sit the final exam and take another test to enter the country’s state universities, known as SNMPTN.
Itet also accused Nuh of being too preoccupied with politics ahead of the 2014 general election.
“Why did [the delay in exams] happen ahead of the 2014 election? Don’t make these children and teachers involved in politics,” she said at the same discussion in Jakarta.
She also criticized the centralized nature of the printing of all materials for the test.
“Why don’t they use remote printing technology, like the ones used by some newspapers,” she said.
Sukemi defended the national exam, saying it is important to map the quality of schools and education across the country. “It is no longer a case that a student can gain entry to a university but, at the same time, fail the national exam,” he said. “Also, the national exams are important to set a standard for all schools across the country,” he said.
Teuku said his agency, along with the ministry, would review the national exam fiasco.
“Since we have always changed methods for national exams, we have failed to develop a system,” he said. “I believe a system is needed to overcome such problems.”