Indonesian Teachers Score Low on Competency Test : Easy Targets ?

This article, “Indonesian Teachers Score Low on Competency Test: Big Surprise?” in the Jakarta Globe, should be renamed, “Indonesian Teachers Score Low on Competency Test : Easy Targets ?”. The article points out that of the less than 300,000 teacher registered as certified in Indonesia the averaged score was 42 out of 100.

Long maligned in Indonesia the education system is underfunded, under resourced, poorly trained and under valued. Indonesian teachers are paid as little as 100,000 IDR ($11 USD) per month in the far flung reaches of the archipelago up to a few million ($220-$330 ) in Jakarta. It is no wonder the brightest and hardest working young minds never even consider a career in teaching, why would you ?

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has previously blamed under performing teachers for the shortcomings of the national education system.

“I’d like to give you a snapshot of the education system in the country,” he said in December at an event to mark the 66th National Teachers Day. “There has been a lot of progress, but there is also still a lot that we need to improve upon.”

Yudhoyono said the first thing that needed to be fixed was teachers’ performance, pointing out that while more were getting certified, there continued to be complaints from the public about their capabilities. “From what I’ve heard, teachers’ performances have not improved along with everything else,” he said.

He complains about teachers’ performance, yet I have not seen much effort made towards training or assisting teachers to improve their competency. Easy to tell teachers to improve, more difficult to help them do so. Most local Indonesian teachers do not have an degree in education, most International schools here that I know of refuse to hire teachers 10th century educational practices of rote learning, ‘chalk and talk’ and ‘never question or challenge the teacher’ are de rigueur. These schools would prefer to find a bright minded educated professional and then train them personally.

At GJIS we help our best Indonesian teachers whom are given a scholarship to gain a degree in education from the University of Southern Queensland. We also have been working with an outside provider to train and gain national competency for them. Regular after school classes hosted at our school shows the dedication of these professionals towards their chosen profession.

Twelve of these teachers recently sat this competency exam. They reported that the two hour exam involved a variety of rote learned questions, eighty in all. Although it was called a competency exam it tested subject knowledge, not teaching competency. The subject knowledge it tested was based in the UAN, (National Exams) which our school does not teach, as we are an International School, yet our teachers had to sit this exam anyway.

It gets worse, the test was of a similar standard to other UAN exams that I have seen, multiple choice questions with vague answers or multiple correct answers, grammatical errors and ambiguous instructions.

I am happy with the plethora of poor results because it means the data is reliable
                                                                                              Muhammad Nuh, Education and Culture Minister

I beg your pardon Minister. Would a plethora of well trained teachers mean that the data was unreliable ? Were you expecting or trying to get this result ?

Nuh said the result of the test was not reflection solely of a teacher’s capabilities, but also of the LPTK’s competencies.  (private teacher training institutes) “We may need to take action against the LPTKs if too many teachers fail” he said.

Is this a political game that our teachers are stuck in the middle of ? If our teachers are caught in the middle of a political battle between the Education department and the LPTKs, then as I say, they are merely easy targets.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono goes on to stress that with the education budget this year set at Rp 267 trillion ($29.4 billion), and expected to rise to Rp 287 trillion in 2012, there was no reason for a lack of improvement in the national education system.

Sounds good, until you do the math, UNESCO recommends a minimal 4 percent of GDP for education. CIA factbook tells me that Indonesia’s GDP last year was $1.121 trillion and thus $29.4 billion equates to a mere 2.6% of the GDP. Articles such as this one tell us that “Indonesian Education Budget Lowest in the World” and that “Indonesia spends far less on education than other developing countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Malawi, Ethiopia, and Togo.” or this one warns of problems with distribution of the budget once allocated. In fact, the Jakarta Globe even reported that the government raided the eduction budget for the corruption riddled South East Asian games.

Pak Muhammad Nuh, Pak Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, we have enough challenges in education in Indonesia without becoming a political football, if we really are to realise the vast human potential of this country we need to work together to improve the educational system, not undermine it and the long suffering teachers working with our students and schools.


About Pak Liam

Living, teaching and traveling in Asia.
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4 Responses to Indonesian Teachers Score Low on Competency Test : Easy Targets ?

  1. Pak Neil says:

    Good article !!! Sometimes I forget that we are teaching in a different world.

  2. Fascinating article. American teachers should read it to understand how good we have it.

  3. I agree with Jacqui. Sometimes we forget. Politicians seem to be the same everywhere. They get to be “experts” and tell all of us how to work better. However, every country I can think of has problems within the governing bodies. Politicians are good at deflection: showing all of the problems with us so we don’t see the problems with them. The big question is “If we aren’t investing in education, what are we investing in?” Society pays one way or another.

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