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National exams’ Butterfly effect

Publication Date : 29-04-2012


Schools nowadays absorb much of students’ time.

With national exams waiting for them in their senior years, they have to sit longer hours at school and undertake extra classes.

Some schools give additional learning time to students who have not mastered the material, while others oblige them to join additional classes several months before exams.

Piled up with extra sessions outside school, students can spend almost 12 hours a day on school subjects in their final years of junior and senior high school.

Some students even increase their hours at earlier stages.

Clarinda Reyzihanifa spends around eight-and-a-half hours at school and some four hours to beat the traffic jam during weekdays. The 11th grader has to arrive at her school, state high school SMA 24, in Sena-yan, Central Jakarta, at 6:30 a.m.

She goes home at 3 pm and usually reaches home in Pondok Cabe, Tangerang, at 5:30 pm.

In the evening, she usually studies for one-and-a-half hours. Sometimes she will spend more hours on completing her homework.

“Yes, I am tired, but I kind of get used to this schedule because I have been doing this since I was in 10th grade,” she told The Jakarta Post.

She plans to take a private course in chemistry in the next two months in a bid to prepare herself to face the national exams and next year’s school exams.

Another student, Farah Andani, says she often sleeps at 1:30 am due to mounting homework. She complains that some teachers suddenly give her many tasks to complete in a short time instead of gradually giving a more manageable amount of tasks.

“When I have not mastered the given tasks, I will just copy my friends’ work. I wish we spent more quality time in the classroom on discussing difficult subjects like biology,” she said.

Since the government implemented in 2004 a “fail system” for students who achieved lower than the minimum national exams grades, the fear to fail has increased sharply along with sparking controversy.

Those who fail are required to take another senior year or equivalency tests.

The government has argued that the punitive system is necessary for students to motivate them to perform and in the end improve the quality of education.

Despite the rising average grades achieved across the years, the country’s education profile remains the same.

Eastern Indonesia and disadvantaged provinces still lag behind the national standard despite the national examination system being designed to improve the quality of education.

National examination results in 2008-2009 showed a high failure rate among high school students nationwide, with underdeveloped areas, such as East Nusa Tenggara, Central Sulawesi, North Maluku, West Papua and Central Kalimantan, ranking at the bottom of the list.

With many policy changes, the government has maintained the percentage of failing students below 1 per cent, but the nightmare that has now lasted for almost a decade still haunts students, parents and teachers.

Last year, 20,234 or 0.55 per cent of junior high school students throughout the nation failed the examination. The number of senior high school students who failed was 11,443 or 0.78 per cent.

In April this year, 3.7 million junior high school students are sitting the national exams, while more than 2.5 million senior high school students are participating in the national exams.


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