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Mounting challenges await next government of Indonesia

Publication Date : 10-06-2014


 Indonesia's education system needs a drastic shake-up following the transition in the government, according to experts in the field.

The secretary-general of the Federation for Indonesian Teachers Associations (FSGI), Retno Listyarti, criticized the current government for its mismanagement of the education sector.

“The system is marred by ‘sickness’. In the 10 years President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been in power, the government produced two curriculums and not much else,” said Retno.

She said the new government should provide teachers with more training, whether they were civil servants, part-time or private teachers.

In a 2013 report entitled Spending more or Spending Better: Improving Education Financing in Indonesia, the World Bank said that Indonesia’s teacher certification program needed to be reviewed, since it did not guarantee students a high-quality learning environment.

Retno also said the national exams should be renegotiated.

“Both teachers and students have fallen prey to a broken system with severe complications,” she told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

She said she hoped the next government would pursue more effective policies and “really” try to understand the issues that plagued the sector.

“Neither presidential candidate has shown any real mastery of the issues that matter. There are several programs that are similar, but it seems Jokowi understands the practical implications more than his competitor,” said Retno, referring to Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) presidential candidate Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

Terbuka University rector Tian Belawati said that higher education was dependent on the ability of tertiary institutions to produce high-quality graduates.

“Currently, tertiary institutions are highly varied in terms of facilities and human resources,” she said.

According to Tian, the government was unable to provide sufficient support for tertiary institutions.

She said the next government should strive to improve access to tertiary institutions, citing that only 30 percent of those aged 19-23 enrolled in college education.

“But it would be useless if the participation rate was high and the graduates were not competitive.”

Tian suggested that the education system needed to give universities and other tertiary institutions the freedom to determine the kind of teaching they provided.

“Let universities define what they do best; the government should support that,” she said.

The Education and Culture Ministry’s directorate general of higher education (DIKTI), Djoko Santoso, said it was important for tertiary institutions to meet industry demands for qualified, professional graduates to compete in the workforce.

“Tertiary institutions should not only be able to instruct and enlighten, but they should also allow the populace to sustain their own economic needs,” he said.

Djoko said that the higher education system should be able to provide opportunities for scientific research, which would drive innovation.

“Higher education is tasked with producing human capital and innovation, both of which are needed to further expand the job market,” he said.

Djoko suggested that the DIKTI should be managed by its own ministry. Only then could the Tri Dharma — the three pillars of education: instruction, research and public service — be achieved.


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