The Jakarta Post
Although English is not included in the elementary school 2013 curriculum, the Jakarta administration has ensured that its students have the opportunity to learn the language as an extracurricular subject.
Jakarta Education Agency head Taufik Yudi Mulyanto said here on Wednesday that English would be a compulsory extracurricular subject for gifted students.
According to him, English may be less necessary for elementary schools in remote areas but students in big cities like Jakarta needed it and elementary schools, including state-run ones, would have no difficulty in realizing the scheme.
'We will start implementing the new extracurricular subject next year, but perhaps only for fifth and sixth graders. The class could, for example, be after school for one hour a week,' Taufik added.
The Education and Culture Ministry, in a move that aims to ensure students master the Indonesian language before taking on additional foreign languages, is scrapping English altogether at the elementary school level and decreasing the hours it is taught at junior and senior high schools.
It also removed Communication and Information Technology (TIK) from the 2013 curriculum for elementary schools and embedded it in other subjects.
'All teachers must use TIK in their teaching practice, so there is no need for a separate lesson,' Taufik said, adding that the new 2013 curriculum required teachers to be able to integrate one lesson with another.
Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama supported the move to offer English as an extracurricular subject, saying elementary students must not be forced to learn English.
'The most important thing is English is not totally banned,' he said.
Education activist Retno Listyarti, however, warned of a law violation should the city administration carry on with its plan.
'If the Education Agency makes English a compulsory extracurricular subject, it will violate Ministerial Regulation No. 81A/2013, which mandates scouts as the only compulsory extracurricular activity,' she said.
Retno also raised the question of the fate of English teachers, whom she assumed, would have their salaries cut, adding that it would be better for parents to enroll their children in English courses to receive intensive teaching rather than relying on one hour a week at school.
Retno said that she was concerned that the central government had omitted two subjects, English and TIK, which might help students embrace globalization.
'Why don't they want our children to study two subjects that will help them compete globally?' she said.
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