Monday, June 25, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
To address the core problems facing the educational system, the government must look beyond the national examination and address the root causes of the system's failures, an expert says.
Winarno Surakhmad, an education consultant with the Japan International Cooperation Agency, said many of the system's problems rested in a misunderstanding of national education's objectives, as outlined in the 1945 Constitution.
"If we want to address the problem, we have to re-orient the nation's philosophy of education. It means that we will not focus only on the national exam as the problem, but the whole education policy. The national exam is only a part of the whole policy, although it is a prominent one," Winarno told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
He said the government and every stakeholder in the educational system should sit down together for a national dialog to redefine the main goals of education.
This, he said, will help end persistent problems in the educational system, and also stop the public and government from blaming each other over mismanagement of the system.
"What we've been blaming ... is not the national exam but those behind the exam. This is not a problem of teachers or students only, but it's a chronic problem that has been passed over by many administrations. This is not only the failure of the current government, but also the failure of the 39 previous Cabinets."
Referring to the violence surrounding the government-imposed national exam, including students committing suicide and vandalizing their schools after failing, Winarno said the problems were systemic and could not be resolved simply by evaluating the exams themselves.
"The national exam is the implementation of the government's interpretation of what the 1945 Constitution means by 'to educate the nation', but is it really in line with the (state ideology) Pancasila and the Constitution (as a whole)? If a student passes tests on mathematics, English and Bahasa Indonesia, do they really become intelligent?" he asked.
The national examination system has received strong opposition from Speaker of the House of Representatives Agung Laksono.
"Since the beginning, I have always said that the national examination conflicted with the law on the national education system. Therefore, I agree with the plan to evaluate it," Agung told detik.com news portal Sunday.
He said the national examination should not be the only tool for evaluating students, and should be reformulated.
"To solve the problem is simple; just return to the law on the national education system, which combines moral values ... and the national exam results."
National Commission for the Protection of Children chairman Seto Mulyadi said the commission started providing free psychological counseling after receiving calls from the public after the announcements of the national exam results for senior and junior high school students.
"It seems reported cases of stress and suicide are not as high as last year," Seto told detik.com on Sunday.(02)