“Education is not the preparation for life, education is life itself” -John Dewey
Indonesia has more and more been improving in each sector of national development. It is also famously known as a potential and promising country in Southeast Asia that has projected to be prosperous in 2020-2035. However, challenges and hurdles nearly remain the same, in particular education. This time I will explain some striking factors that hinder Indonesia in enhancing its education based on my perspective.
- Lack of qualified teachers
The quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teacher. Research carried by World Bank showed around 54% of Indonesian teachers are underqualified. It is definitely controversial number since teachers are playing the most significant role in learning outcomes among students. Curriculum, media, methods, facilities, system and government seem unnecessary if the teachers do not manage the students and master the subject pedagogically. In fact, the distribution of skillful teachers in Indonesia is not equal which pile up in big cities like Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya. Meanwhile in slum regions, it is easy to find the schools with very few teachers (only 1-4 teachers) with no bachelor degree or just diploma. As a consequent, the students did not grasp the topic or content of knowledge effectively, leading to the poor students’ result. More unpleasantly, the students are going to lose their desire to study and prefer to get job instead.
The Indonesian government has currently placed a high priority on fostering the quality of teaching in order to improve student achievement. One of subsequent efforts is Sertifikasi Guru (teacher certification). It is a program for enhancing the quality of teachers professionally by examining the competency of teachers. Although it has been increasing the living standard of teachers because of twofold allowance policy, it unfortunately has no significant impact on Indonesian students outcomes. By this I mean, the program is not examining the whole skills needed and cannot assure the peformance over the time. Once the teachers pass the exam (written), they will obtain the allowance as long as they fill the obligation of 24 hours per week of teaching. I must admit this policy has wasted capital funding with 250 Trillion Rupiah since 2005, but I hope this program will benefit Indonesia not for short term but in the 10 or 20 years ahead.
- No regular on-going professional development for teachers
Regular on-going professional development means effort to upgrade skills for teachers or educators from personal, pedagogical, professional, social and technical sides. In that program, teachers could share and learn everything related to subjects, methods, approaches, techniques, media and technology together with educators, curriculum experts, lecturers and media experts.
The key of successful educational system in Shanghai, Singapore and Finland is focusing on teachers qualification. Those nations greatly concern to prepare their human resources to be excellent teachers. After that, those countries will monitor, evaluate and upgrade their teachers abilities according to their subjects through regular professional development supporting teacher in explaining materials. In other words, the focus of attention is on the upgrading knowledge and skills not only salary or allowance for teachers.
While in Indonesia, teachers training colleges do not have strict selection and screening processes. The requirements are not high as top-peforming countries which select individuals before they begin teacher training, Indonesia leaves the selection process to the moment when prospective teachers have graduated from teacher training. Futher to that, if teachers face the problems in teaching, most of them get confused and do not know how to discover the proper solutions since no opportunity and place to share, while Musyawarah Guru Mata Pelajaran (Teachers Council) is just for some representatives, not for the whole teachers. Teachers are sometimes unwilling to get involved in MGMP due to wrong time and distance, spesifically for those who are in rural. In conclusion, the neglect of developing pre-service and in-service training for teachers has led the worsening situation for Indonesia .
- Strengthen conventional method or rote learning
This factor is obviously major hurdle for the pupils. The curriculum tends to memorize the facts, theories and information rather than solving the problems. The content is overwhelming, causing the stress, frustation and lack of understanding.
Moreover, teachers mostly use the lecture and demonstration approaches while those methods are merely absorbed by students about less than 50%. According to some recent studies, an instructor generally says 100-200 words a minute and a student only hears 50-100—half. Worse yet, in a typical lecture class, students are attentive just 40 percent of the time. Imagine that we have grasped the information of subject just 40 % in each class as long 12 years?
Generally, using lecture and demonstration are not constantly false, but those approaches clearly do not generate the creativity and critical thinking. In lecture or demonstration ways, students should pay attention to the teacher and whiteboard silently, while the true learning should concern on interaction, audio-visual and practice. Therefore, technical, professional and pedagogical skills are demanding in this 21st century as the students will face the global and technology challenges in the future.
The above-mentioned paragraphs are reflection of Indonesia educational challenges at the moment. Then as education graduate, I offer some practical solutions for Indonesia government even though the stakeholders will not read my blog =)
- Creating a platform that will connect teachers across Indonesia.
This is genuinely my idea for enhancing teachers professional that will assist them to convey and share their problems, materials, resources, multimedia, videos, and approaches as on-line. By sharing knowledge and evidence, the teachers will be easier to discover the innovation to teach and it provides some educational experts to cope teachers difficulties.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of teacher certification and revise the instrument of certification to include additional activities like impartial subject matter competency test
In my opinion, teacher certification is no longer suitable for testing the core skills of teacher in these days which stakeholders should reconsider the assessment of it. For this reason, the score teachers required only 40 out of 100 and this program is limited for seniors or experienced teachers. The question is what about the initial or new teachers?
Another problem is no clear responsibilities for those got certification. As mentioned before, they merely have to teach 24 hours/week. It is best for government to include the evaluation of lesson plans or resources that have created to higher the quality of teachers.
- Promoting teacher’s profiles to higher their career paths
The rewards of dedication is one of the applicable ways to appreciate teachers led to the increase of creativity, independent, and professional for them. By doing so, teachers will feel valued and important in educational system affecting positively the spirit of teaching and learning outcomes.
- The rotation of teachers across Indonesia
I know this could hardly implement in Indonesia since the infrastructure, facilities, transportation and human resources are poor in slum regions. In this sense, the majority of teachers sytaying in urban will not easily be moved by government to the eastern of Indonesia because of those reasons. To be more precise, they do not want to leave their comfort zone in the city. Therefore, the rotation of qualified teachers should be done in order to advance the learning process in rural areas while improving infrastructure and schools facilities. I realize that this could apparently require long time to gain the good result, but I truly believe it is worth to do.
- Implement strict selection and training process to ensure that the most suited candidates enter the teaching profession.
In the past 20 years ago, not many individuals wanted to be teachers in Indonesia. This is because of the low salary and uncertainty of career path. Thus, school leavers at that moment preferred to take engineer and medical school which offered the better living standard. In other words, teacher colleges were like second or the last option for continuing study (if they were not accepted in medical or engineer institutions), resulting the poor quality of education.
However, Education has been priority for Indonesian government in this day and age as the budget for education sector is 20%. More importantly, teacher colleges have advanced their facilities, experts, laboratories, infrastucture and quality in order to attract the potential teacher candidates. Nonetheless, some teacher colleges still do not determine high requirements and strict selection process. It is imperative that teacher training college officials should monitor the promising candidates from high schools and offer them to the college with low tuition fee or even as free and officials could also higher the standard of entering the college.
- Barber, M., and M. Mourshed, 2007. “How the world’s Best Peforming Schools Come Out on Top. “McKinsey & Company, London, UK.
- World Bank Report, 2010