The Jakarta Post
The 2013 national curriculum may end up being changed sooner than expected with two major political parties, deemed frontrunners in the 2014 elections, saying the curriculum will do little to improve the country's education system.
Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker Dedi Gumelar said that expecting improvements in education quality by rushing to implement a new curriculum was a bizarre idea.
'The 2006 curriculum has not been well implemented in every province in the country, yet the government has decided to change the curriculum again,' said the member of House of Representative's Commission X that oversees education.
Golkar lawmaker Ferdiansyah agreed, saying that before implementing a new policy, the government should have first conducted thorough research into the country's education system to discover the main priorities.
'Take the curriculum for example. The House of Representatives has suggested the government conduct a trial first, but they insisted that no trial was needed,' Ferdiansyah said. 'The ministry should have ensured that they had provided equal infrastructure throughout the country before thinking of changing the curriculum,' he added.
The PDI-P is the largest opposition party and along with the Golkar Party is expected to gather substantial support in 2014, with most pollsters placing the two parties at the top of their surveys.
The latest survey by the National Survey Institute (LSN) shows that Golkar would get 19.7 percent of the vote, followed by PDI-P with 18.3 percent, if the election were held today.
Most political parties agree that the main problem in Indonesia's education system is the fact that so many of the nation's youth do not have proper access to education.
This is despite the government's commitment to allocate 20 percent of its budget for education as mandated by the 1945 Constitution.
'We have to admit that not all children in the country have equal access to education. The government has to provide equal distribution of teachers, while at the same time improving their quality,' Agus Hermanto, Democratic Party lawmaker said.
Agus, who is also a candidate for the 2014 legislative elections, however, defended the Education and Culture Ministry's move to implement the new curriculum despite this unequal access, especially in the country's remoter areas, saying that it was necessary to boost the quality of education.
The implementation of the new national curriculum has been marred by protests as teachers only received the technical guidelines and materials a few days prior to the implementation.
The government has decided to implement the new curriculum in only 6,401 schools, far fewer than the initial target of 102,053 elementary, junior high and senior high schools. The ministry felt the majority of schools were unprepared for the new curriculum.
Agus acknowledged that the new curriculum had drawn protests from education experts as well as teachers, but said that the government could not delay its implementation.
'We cannot wait until all teachers fully understand the new curriculum before implementing it. We should run the curriculum concurrently with improving teacher's capabilities, as well as providing equal education infrastructure,' Agus said.
Ferdiansyah said that the spending of the education budget should be reviewed to ensure that the 20 percent budget allocation actually made a difference.
He criticized the government's decision to divide up the budget allocation for education among 18 ministries to finance programs that were related to education. 'If it is not a public school then it should not be financed by the state,' he said.
Apart from the half-baked new national curriculum the Education and Culture Ministry has also been mired in controversy due to reports of alleged misuse of the education budget.
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