Govt to make schools less work, more fun


by: Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Education is the backbone of a country’s development. Unfortunately, schools, as the main educational institution, are often seen as a dreadful place where students are forced to endure long and boring hours just to get through the day.

That mindset is exactly what the government is trying to change.

“We need to make sure our schools are in line with the philosophical foundation that was made by the father of education in Indonesia, Ki Hajar Dewantara. He referred to schools as gardens. A garden is a place that people love to visit,” Culture and Elementary and Secondary Education Minister Anies Baswedan said on Wednesday.

According to him, schools in Indonesia nowadays are often the opposite of that philosophy.

“They [the students] hate to come [to school] and they love to leave. We need to reverse that,” said Anies.

In order to do that, he said the government would ask for input from students.

“We are going to talk more often to our children. We often ask more of our education specialists than of our students. We need to ask them how they like their schools to be managed,” Anies said.

He added that the government would also focus attention on educating teachers.

“I often ask teachers, ‘Do you want to be remembered or to be forgotten?’ If you want to be remembered, be inspired and create classrooms that are like gardens where people love to come,” said Anies.

While the government is pushing toward a more fun learning environment, it does not mean that the standard of education will be lowered, he said.

“It’s not going to be easy. Education can be challenging, but challenge could be fun. It should be something that we want to overcome and we need to create that [kind of mindset],” Anies said.

Commenting on the plan, Federation of Indonesian Teachers Associations (FSGI) secretary-general Retno Listyarti said that it was a good idea.

“I agree because schools should be fun and become a safe zone so that children could feel at home,” she told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

However, Retno believed that it was not an easy task.

“It’s not easy to do because Anies’ policies do not create that kind of mindset [in schools],” she said.

For example, while Anies had dropped the much-criticized 2013 national curriculum and had ordered schools in the country to revert to the 2006 curriculum, he still allowed 6,221 schools that had already implemented the 2013 curriculum for the past three semesters to continue using it.

“Unfortunately his policy [to drop the 2013 curriculum] is ambiguous. How could the schools become like gardens when Anies allowed some schools to still implement the 2013 curriculum, which tortures students?” said Retno. “Then what about those schools that reverted back to the 2006 curriculum? There’s no guidance
for them.”

She also emphasized the importance of creating schools that are not only fun, but also free from bullying and violence.

Retno cited the case of state senior high school SMA 3 in Jakarta, of which she is the principal. Six of her students were suspended for between one and two months for involvement in violence against a 30-year-old alumnus of the school.

“Violence cases like this have been happening for years. When we want to make schools free from violence and a safe haven, but cases like this happen. This way, schools won’t become like gardens, but more like scary places,” she said.

Source : Jakarta Post

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