Reviewed by Riko Arfiyantama
“On September 2000, the U.S general accounting Office released a report on the commercialization of U.S schools. The report stated, in-school marketing has become a growing industry” (Spring, 211: 2008). Both U.S and Indonesia have already faced this trend of commercialization since past up to present. It explicitly shown at many schools that financial support is the important thing to build a good school so that some schools needs to make contracts with some products. Then the financial benefits given to the schools will be exerted to enhance the teachers’ quality, provide every student with high facilities, computers, and books, and become fully equipped schools. This method seems to be mushroomed to make good schools instantly in short time than depending only from tuition or aids from government. But something underlined of this phenomena is not every school getting benefits similarly, in this case some schools get much, some adequate, and others lacking. This similar trend also happens in Indonesia. Some schools make contracts with some products. However the way in advertising the products are different with U.S. In Indonesia they tend to give the financial support in some events held by schools so the products have opportunities to promote or sell theirs at schools. This case can be regarded as win-win solution but this kind of phenomena still bring others problem followed. In this case the products prefer making contracts with some big schools because the big mass in that schools give promising big benefits for the products. Thus there will be a gap between big and small schools. Some small schools with few students become smaller and undeveloped. In contrast, the big schools become bigger and bigger because of the contracts. Moreover the big schools in Indonesia usually take the higher tuition than small schools do. So the gap between big and small schools may become farther in the future. In conclusion this trend affects good in one side and bad in another. The control of the government can be exerted as one of solution in balancing all aspects to be better.
Related to the explanation above, there are a lot of kinds of schools i.e. public, private, charter, for-profit schools, and home schooling. The two schools firstly mentioned, public and private schools become a hot issue mostly discussed not only in U.S but also in Indonesia. In U.S School choice and Voucher upheld by the government were two of some efforts in covering the school financial side. This Voucher could be used both private and public schools. This regulation actually could give a good solution because this policy could help the schools to improving themselves better. Moreover it could be exerted to facilitating the students’ needs and increase the competition among the schools. In addition, mostly public schools often faced financial problems in providing their students so the Voucher would help them much. However there would be forcefulness toward the schools to compete for students against private schools. Ironically the parents still thought that the private schools produced better quality than the public. On the other hand, since each private school charged its own tuition. The private schools still won this situation because they would be richer earned from both school Voucher and the tuition. Thus the public schools were placed again to the lower status place. Viewing from the parents’ angle, this Voucher could give them more freedom to choosing where their children wanted to go to. Although the fact of the Voucher application didn’t give a much help toward the parents, the reason was at an expensive school, the Voucher would make no different at all to the low-income family.
Following the school Voucher, U.S gave another choice with establishing the Charter School. Charter Schools are Primary and Secondary Schools that receive public money (such as donation from private schools or funded by the teachers, parents, or activists). They are part of public education system and are not allowed to charge the tuition. This is another kind of alternative given for low-income families. Recently, Indonesia also has Bantuan Operasional Sekolah (School Operational Assistance) or BOS which is almost similar to school Voucher and charter school policy in U.S. However this Aid is given to students of all Primary and Secondary School in every places of Indonesia. Additionally, not only state schools but also private schools receive BOS. So they don’t need to pay the tuition in studying to those schools. This strategy gives a big chance toward poor families to bring their children to schools. In line with that, some small private schools can be still alive of getting this Aid. Different with U.S, most society prefer going to state schools than private. The schools’ movements in Indonesia give a significant difference between the past and present situation. In the past private schools were regarded as better schools and financially well. It was well-known that studying at private schools were expensive than state schools. Nowadays it changes overall. Although some private schools are still considered as elite schools, most of them are in the contrary. Nowadays the Indonesian government’ attention for state schools are more intensive than private. Therefore quality and facilities at most state schools are better. Unfortunately, this good situation is used by the schools to take additional charge from the parents. They argue that the charge is for the extra-curricular activity or the school building development. In some rural area, instead most private schools fully do the free tuition that is otherwise with state schools. So based to that situation, most rich parents tend to educate their children at state schools. Accordingly, some schools become better and richer to produce high quality students, but some others which depend on BOS only become very hard to improve their school. The government can fund the building development and facilities to the poor schools, but this aid may not come every year. Thus it makes the poor schools more difficult to compete with other schools. On the whole, at least, this BOS solution can give a better solution to poor families and preserve a better income for the teachers compared by the past situation. Again, there should be a big effort from all education sides to equalize the whole education fields in Indonesia.
“A special school makes special people” this is an example of many schools’ slogan to attract the students when the enrollment period begins. It is Undeniable that this slogan really happens in fact. A school with many facilities and professional teachers is being desired by so many people. The students’ input and parents’ responsibility also take a big role forward the output quality. Bjork gave some Indonesian schools as models for samples: SMP A as an elite school, SMP B as a mid-level, and SMP C as a small one in a rural area. He observed at three schools. He found SMP A very well equipped and supported by many students from special connections (usually from high status families) and few others from hard enrolling way, SMP B equipped enough and serving a less affluent population than SMP A, and SMP C located in a countryside with big students’ number (usually from lower status families) and equipped inadequately. This is the real evidence of that far gap among schools. If it is compared with the past situation, the parental responsibility of children’ education was considered low at every school and the teachers at most schools had no guarantee of being welfare. Nowadays, the different situation happens. The parental responsibility turns higher and the teachers’ prosperity become better. But it is still questioning again whether this situation becomes better or worse because the agglomeration trend of the school levels similarly told in the previous paragraphs is increasingly going on. Accordingly, the good parental responsibility and better teachers’ prosperity happen at good schools only. In some schools like SMP C, the teachers should work hard to make a better education although they are paid less and have small attention from the parents’ side. Based on the achievements compared between three kinds of schools, surely the elite schools earn more achievements than the other schools because they have everything to support the best education. They may hope to win the math, biology or physic competition. They can show so many trophies they get each year. Moreover, the small schools may never dream to get any achievement indeed.
Another sample taken by Bjork was St Timothy School. It was very unique school because they even enrolled 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 in their province. In addition, they also have an excellent academic reputation. The question is how to conduct an education strategy to produce a high quality output by recruiting mid or low-level input with cheaper tuition instead. This school may be able to break the trend of other schools that a good education is expensive. The different regulating way taken by St. Timothy School is one of the answers. The school did not follow the whole government instruction like other schools did. They chose to avoid the boundary of the government. By regulating of such kind of policy, the St Timothy School would be more independent to direct and bring where their education should be structured. They could really know what their needs. They used to gain some aspects from the government instruction considered important and omit others regarded useless for them. Another answer is the high dedication of the teachers. A creative teacher with limited equipments and facilities may become better or worthier rather than a teacher without creativity with full facilities. This case probably was taken into account by the government to give more freedom toward schools in Indonesia nowadays. Kurikulum Tingkat Satuan Pendidikan (KTSP) or the school based curriculum is a real proof that the government want to give more freedom.
After the Indonesian government applied the decentralization that was aimed to improve the education in every region, it can give a brighter chance actually. Every region can trigger the efficiency of education management because some education authorities i.e. the planning, upholding, funding, and managing the education providers are handled by the government locally. It means that the possibilities can be adjusted to fulfill the situation, needs, and the potency from each region. The Local Content Curriculum applied around 1994 was another government effort to maximize the local region’ potency. Nevertheless it can become an ambitious plan without followed up with the equalization in many sectors. In addition, the curriculum reforms must be in line with the teachers’ quality improvement so that the good curriculum can run well as what expected.
Dealing with the teachers’ quality improvements, both U.S and Indonesia have a big attention toward this case. U.S system exerts up to 5 years studying to produce best teachers. Education in all aspects have been arranged to achieve the goal. In line with U.S, Indonesia also always does a big effort to improve the teachers’ quality such as: regulating the law that compels a teacher must have at least S1 degree (undergraduate) in teaching Primary school or higher. In the conclusion, an education structure is bounded with all aspects surrounding. Who can understand the situation, know what they need and struggle for it. They will be the winners in dragging the situation better and better.
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.
Bjork, Cristopher. 2006. Educational Decentralization. Netherland: Springer.
Ravitch, Diane. 2010. American School System. New York: A Member of the Perseus Books Group.
Spring, Joel. 2008. American Education. New York: Queens College.
Zeichner, Kenneth. 2008. Handbook of Research on Teacher Education. New York and London: Routledge.