EDUCATION QUALITY IN INDONESIA AND UNITED STATES

Reviewed by Riko Arfiyantama

 Submitted as the third response paper in Dual Degree Program UNNES

            One of some items that can be considered as a measurement of the country’s progression is education quality. It has been obviously exerted as a parameter whether the country has succeeded to build their nation well or not. Accordingly, some countries have a big willing to spend lots money to fund their education. They put the education quality in the first priority. Both Indonesia and US also do the same thing. In the recent years, the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudoyono, declared that 20 percent of Anggaran Pendapatan dan Belanja Negara (APBN) or budget revenues and expenditures will be given to educational sector. This becomes very good news for education stakeholders throughout the nation. It can be exerted to equalize the education in many provinces not only in the cities but also the rural areas. The primary and secondary schools have BOS (school operation assistance) to help the basic education sector so that they do not need to pay the tuition. Moreover, the Indonesian teachers have a better life because their salary is increased.

In the Bjork observation of some school types in Indonesia, he found some weaknesses of the teachers’ practice. One of the weaknesses is the salary, he stated that some Indonesian teachers had side job to cover their need because the teachers’ salary was very small and inadequate that time.  An example comes from Pak Trisilo case, a civil servant teacher at a secondary school. He spent long hours working for a travel agency besides his full-time working at school. Therefore, he looked very tired and messy when he went to work at school. This problem obviously affected to the teachers’ performance in the daily practice. This problem actually happened not only to Pak Trisilo but also some other teachers. They argued that their salary as a teacher was not enough to provide their family so some others had to work as private tutors, run small-scale trading business, refereed soccer matches, and raised and sold animals. In rural areas, teachers tended to work in both education and agriculture (Bjork, 2005, p. 101-102). What the students get in their classroom while the teacher has a tired face and feel sleepy when doing teaching and learning process. What is being transferred to the students probably cannot be achieved if such of the situation is still going on. By raising the expenditures for education, the government also raised the teachers’ salary so that all teachers hopefully have more big attention forward their students.

In line with Education in Indonesia, US government also has the same policy dealing with the expenditures of education. As we learned in class that they want to be number one in world education rankings. Berliner and Biddle revealed the Myth about American Education that “America spends a lot more money on Education than other countries” (Berliner & Biddle, 1995, p. 66). Although this myth had been already broken, there was still a tendency from US government that big expenditures can improve their education quality. They spent many billions dollars to fund their education because the education sector still takes the crucial part of their priority. From education side, United States can produce new engineers, scientist, and mathematicians to improve other crucial sectors. In addition, this first myth is also encountered with another “Money is not related to school achievement” (Berliner & Biddle, 1995, p. 70). This myth is also not based on the fact of the real educational situation in US because the money can be exerted to manage the funding, teacher quality and class size actually. Therefore, the school characteristics and funding have effect on student achievement. Moreover, the costs in education have recently skyrocketed is also not wastefully. The costs are exerted to fund the high-quality management such as to recruit, train, and keep talented individuals on the job. This does not only cover the teacher salary but also the superintendents and the educational staffs.

After dealing with the raising of teacher salary, the quality of their performance is aimed to be better. Nevertheless, there is still a question whether the big expenditures spent by the government are significant or not compared with the situation in the past and present. In Indonesia, the civil servant teachers have the most safety zone occupation because they have decree from the regent directly. They also have the biggest salary compared with most other teachers. Although they have low-quality performance in teaching, they will still be in safety zone. Different with US, the teachers do struggle to produce the better student output. If their achievements decrease, it will affect in the cutting of their salary or may be a sign of dismissal. This policy certainly forces the teachers to have a big effort in improving their teaching-quality. Bjork also found out that many teachers in Indonesia have a low-quality performance such as they left the class unsupervised and did not worry about the consequences. Even there was no one urged the man to take responsibility for the unsupervised students or substituted teacher to teach the class. In addition of the practices, what teachers did in the faculty room was not to look the student assignment or discuss the educational case. Otherwise, they did gossiping with other teachers. Accordingly, some teachers came late to the classroom. Based on the facts above, it can be concluded that the teacher discipline in Indonesia is still low. No self-awareness appears from the teachers to take a responsibility in giving the class. It was also shown in some rituals i.e. flag ceremony and teacher faculty meeting. In the flag ceremony, some teachers followed the ritual to show their obedient and loyalty toward the government or principal. On the other hand, the faculty meeting became one-way explanation from the principal to the teachers only. There was no a big curiosity to form their teaching performance better. If that is compared with US teachers that are expected to spend tremendous amounts of time and energy to their students, it will be very contrast. A reason comes up following the situation. Teaching is not only to give what to teach, but also how to teach. The second point can be more important indeed. Time and energy given to the students tend to give more attention in how to teach point (pedagogical aspect). Nancy is one example of a good teacher. She has a great pedagogue in her teaching. Shulman described what happened when she was teaching “She was like a symphony conductor, posing questions, probing for alternative views, drawing out the shy while tempering the boisterous” (Shulman, 1987, p. 2). Besides that, she also kept her good teaching method although she was sick. The good teachers should know that they teach the diverse students. All students cannot be treated similarly so that they need different strategies to teach them.

I also have a good teacher that I always remember. He taught English subject. He was about 58 years old. However, his motivation in teaching was so high. He looked like spreading endless spirits to us. We never felt bored and used to wait for him to teaching us. We thought that his explanation was so clear. He gave his big respect to us although we did so many mistakes. He gave more attention to some students who had not understood. He also mastered the material deeply so every question asked could be answered satisfactorily. In contrast with other teacher performance that time, he was punctual and hardly ever absent. He was like our own father. If most of the teachers have same character like him or Nancy, the education will go brighter. Zulfikar asserts that “Succesful teachers are not simply responsible for transferring knowledge, they must transfer it effectively and successfully, and for that reason alone, they should organize classrooms, implement effective classroom pedagogy and work cooperatively with a diversity of students and colleagues” (as cited in McCAughtry, Cothran, Kulinna, Martin and Faust, 2005).

As Taruna Nusantara High School Video, it showed a model of teaching physics. The teacher explained the material in English. This school is well-known as a discipline high school with semi-military system. The students are from the high-quality level because the school enrolls the excellent students from Junior high school. The good input is also supported by the high-quality teachers. No wonder if the school achievement always increase by the time going. Bjork labels this kind of school as similar as to SMP A (an elite school). However, is there any other school similar to St Timothy School? It is very unique school because they even enroll all students without regarding of their elementary school grades or examination scores. Moreover, they also conduct education in a cheaper tuition. Unbelievably, the St Timothy School ranked first on the English Portion of Ebtanas test (Final examination) among all junior high schools and has an excellent academic reputation. The key of St Timothy’s success is running the education by its autonomy and resistance toward the government.

Qaryah Thayyibah is another example of a good school like St Timothy. It is located near Semarang, exactly in Kalibening, Tingkir, Salatiga Regency (an hour driving from Semarang). The school without fences, flag pole, building, bell, and even signpost of the school. The education system at this school does not need to take the expensive tuition. Bahrudin is the founder of this alternative school. He exerts the Learning Based Community as its curriculum. This school is independent and unattached with the government policy. It can be assumed that this school has its own autonomy and fully resistance toward the government. Because the school does not have building, it runs the education in the nature. However, the school has a better output compared to other elite expensive schools. It also has a good school achievement. Maia Rosyida is one good example. This eighteen-year-old girl is a student from Qaryah Thayyibah (QT) that has composed twenty books.  Fina, Izza dan Siti won the Creative Kids Award in the national level competition. Some others have also produced film, music, and research. Those achievements are equal or probably more compared to some elite schools in Indonesia. Therefore what happens to QT school so that they can have a good education with its limitations as described. Bahrudin explained that the main concept of QT school is to give the students a freedom to choose whatever they like. The teachers’ role at QT only gives idea and advice to the students but the student decision is back to them. This alternative education found by Bahrudin actually centers to a fundamental principle “to make the students become a self-independent learner”. By using this strategy, the students can develop and improve whatever they like so they study happily without any pressure. The school uses the internet to explore and search what the students want to learn. If they want to learn how to play guitar, they watch video about guitar lesson. If they want to compose a song, they can ask their friends or neighbors surrounding that have understood about it. This kind of unique system with high-quality output may not be found everywhere. It will not produce students graduate knowing how to choose the right option from bubbles on a multiple-choice test, but prepared to lead fulfilling lives, to be responsible citizens, and to make good choices for themselves, their families, and the society (Ravitch, 2010, p. 224). This school may give some answers for both Indonesian and American problems dealing with the education quality. The very cheap tuition, autonomy, and resistance are some points that can be obtained as the conclusion of both two good schools (St Timothy and Qaryah Thayyibah). However, knowing what the student need is the most important thing that must be considered.

REFERENCES

Berliner, David C. and Biddle, Bruce J. (1995). The Manufactured Crisis. Massachusetts: Perseus Books.

Bjork, Cristopher. 2005. Indonesian Education Teachers, Schools, and Central Bureaucracy – Chapter Two: Contextualizing the Puzzle. New York and London: Ruotledge.

Bjork, Cristopher. 2005. Indonesian Education Teachers, Schools, and Central Bureaucracy – Chapter Six: Teachers’ Attachments to the Educational System. New York and London: Ruotledge.

Bjork, Cristopher. 2005. Indonesian Education Teachers, Schools, and Central Bureaucracy – Chapter Eight: Autonomy and Resistance at St. Timothy’s Junior High. New York and London: Ruotledge.

Firdaus, Aini. (January, 27th 2010 at 10:38am). Sekolah tanpa sekolah: Pendidikan Alternatif Qaryah Thayyibah di Salatiga. Retrived from http://www.ummi-online.com/artikel-41-sekolah-tanpa-sekolah–pendidikan-alternatif-qaryah-thayyibah-di-salatiga.html

Ravitch, Diane. (2010). American School System: How Testing and Choice are undermining Education. New York: A Member of Perseus Books Group.

Shulman, Lee S. (Vol. 57 No.1 February 1987). Knowledge and Teaching: Foundations of the New Reform. Harvard Educational Review. 0017-8055/87/0200-0001$01.25/0.

Zulfikar, Teuku. (vol. 2 2009). The making of Indonesian Education: An Overview on Empowering Indonesian Teachers. Journal of Indonesian Social Sciences and Humanities. URN: NBN: NL: UI: 10-1-100135.

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