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Indonesian Supreme Court: Equal Education Must Precede National Tests


(This article is from Indonesia, a country in Asia with the fourth largest population in the world. You can see the original article here. What do people think of this court ruling?)

In a ruling that could potentially revamp Indonesia’s education system, the Supreme Court has rejected the government’s appeal against the scrapping of national examinations. In a ruling issued on Sept. 14, but only made public this week, the court said the government must improve the quality of teachers and facilities in schools throughout the country before it can continue with the national tests.

The court has effectively told the government that it cannot conduct national exams if it cannot guarantee the same standard of education for all students. If certain regions of the country lack basic educational facilities and have poorly trained teachers, students from schools in these areas will be disadvantaged in the national exams.

This is a landmark ruling as it goes to the heart of the issue: Indonesia’s education system is in need of a total revamp.

Examinations are only one way to evaluate students and often times not the most effective. By holding national examinations, the National Education Ministry assumes that all students across the country have access to the same opportunities and information, which is far from the truth.

The government can use the Supreme Court ruling to begin the difficult and painful process of modernizing the country’s education system. It must develop a new curriculum that is in line with 21st century thinking and teaching methods. This must begin at the elementary school level and filter up to university education so as to develop and prepare our youth to meet the challenges of the future.

The system must be flexible yet ensure that basic skills such as mathematics, reading and writing are well taught. Educators have been promoting for some time now the concept that we should be teaching our students to think critically instead of just enforcing rote learning.

The National Education Ministry should provide broad guidelines and an overall framework for what should be taught, but schools must be given the flexibility to modify the curriculum according to the needs of their students.

Prefacing such a dramatic change in the education system must be the acquisition of enough qualified teachers. Currently, a high percentage of teachers do not undergo even basic teacher training courses, with schools hiring young teachers straight out of university or even high school. Thus, more teacher training institutes must be established.

Second, private schools must be allowed to play a bigger role in the education system. Often these schools have the resources to hire more qualified teachers and develop better curricula. The quality of our human resources will determine if Indonesia can compete shoulder to shoulder with other emerging Asian nations. For the economy to grow and move up the value chain the country will need workers who are able to think critically and make informed judgments.

We must create an education system that not only teaches our students how to read but to discern what is worth reading. If we can achieve this, the country will have a population that will always thirst for knowledge

Carla GoldsteinIndonesian Supreme Court: Equal Education Must Precede National Tests