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Indonesia's new national curriculum confusing: Teachers, experts

Publication Date : 21-02-2013


Although Indonesia's new national curriculum is set to become effective in only four months, teachers and education experts say that they are still in the dark over details about the new guidelines, with some saying that some of the subjects are too absurd to teach.

The new curriculum, consisting of civic education and religion being integrated with science, was too complicated for teachers, let alone students to understand, said Retno Listyarti, the Indonesian Teachers Unions Federation (FSGI) secretary-general.

Retno said on Wednesday that with teachers having only a few months to fully grasp the integrated subjects, they had yet to receive complete information from the Education and Culture Ministry about the new curriculum. So far, what is available for them is an incomplete document of standards and competency for the students.

In the standards and competency document obtained by The Jakarta Post recently, for the subject of Indonesian, the basic competence required from students is accepting the language as a gift from God, a means that could unite the country amid differences in local languages.

A sample of the standard and competency required from a fourth grade student in a science subject is that they could strengthen their faith by acknowledging that the complex relationship of the universe could be attributed to God, who has created it.

The document leaves blank details on the integration of mathematics and religion.

Retno said that the teachers will have problems with the new curriculum because of the lack of description about each integrated subject and the teacher’s guidelines.

“I wonder how the ministry could say that they have almost completed the books for the students if they haven’t completed such a basic document?” Retno told the Post on Wednesday.

As previously reported, Education and Culture Minister Mohammad Nuh said that the new books both for students and teachers would be ready by the end of February, as they were already in the hands of proofreaders.

He also told teachers to bear with the change, as they would be trained to adapt to the new curriculum in May.

“Of course they were confused about the content of the curriculum - they haven’t been trained yet,” Nuh said on Monday.

Meanwhile, Musliar Kasim, the deputy education and culture minister, said that the ministry could not distribute the completed documents on the guidelines as they were not yet considered official government material.

“We will show the draft of the curriculum shortly, when we are ready,” he said.

According to Musliar, 102,053 schools, including elementary schools, junior high schools and high schools, would implement the curriculum starting in the 2013/2014 academic year.

He said that only the first, fourth, seventh and 10th grade students would study under the new curriculum this year.

Only in the 2015/2016 academic year would all grades implement the curriculum, he said.

Musliar added that schools that had already implemented a similar thematic integrated curriculum would be appointed as supervisors to guide the state schools to make their transition from the current curriculum to the new one.

“Schools, state or private, that have applied a similar concept of curriculum, would be appointed as supervisors for the rest of the schools in their respective regency” Musliar said.

Golkar lawmaker Zulfadhli questioned the idea, saying that not all regencies in the country had at least one school that had applied a thematic and integrated teaching methodology.

National Mandate Party (PAN) lawmaker Nasrullah said that the main problem with the new curriculum was that it would be more time-consuming, as teachers would need longer hours of training before implementing the curriculum.

“Every teacher would need a new pedagogic strategy to teach just one simple subject, and not all teachers would have that ability,” Nasrullah said.“I wonder how teachers could master a curriculum that requires them to combine the subjects into a narrative explanation in such a short period of time.”


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