Michael Setiawan , Jakarta | Sat, 05/02/2009 10:40 PM | Opinion
The celebration of National Education Day, which falls on May 2, needs to be marked with some introspection. This country, its officials and its people need to realize how education will make this country move forward and become a great country in the future. Our education is left out from other countries, including our neighbors, which used to get our help to improve their education, and it also creates a lot of controversies among us.
We have to admit that we are moving around the “axis of evil” in terms of education. Whatever happens between the government and lawmakers regarding the educational budget, we will never be able to move forward unless we break this axis and achieve some real education reform. The “axis of evil” in education refers to the frequent changing of the curriculum, the doubtful welfare standard of teachers and the changing culture among those involved in education, from students to parents to teachers.
We have to find the curriculum that best fits our country. This country tends to imitate curriculums from other countries in the hope they will be transition flawlessly. It is surprising to discover officials still insist on using these unsuitable curriculums. In addition, almost every time we have a new minister of education, we have another curriculum and other new set of rules that create problems. If we want to be honest, our present curriculum is not working well and it needs revision. For some people, past curriculums have been much better than the current.
On the other hand, we also need to start thinking about our teachers. Their welfare is the determining factor of their teaching quality. The minimum salary of Rp 2.5 million per month, is unrealistic in these tough economic conditions.
Prof. Dr. Laura F.N. Sudarnoto, an expert in education and also dean of the School of Education at Atma Jaya University, recently reminded us in one of her speeches that education reform is needed in all aspects, such as a change of curriculum, adequate infrastructure.
In addition, we have to be aware of the changing culture among our students, parents, and also teachers. Our students see education as a burden in their lives. They do not enjoy what they learn. They come to school because they have to. Their studies are perfunctory.
Besides, finding teachers who have the idealism to train future leaders is a difficult task. Parents usually do not care about education and its processes. They only want to see the results, not the process.
In order to have real education reform, we need to find the most suitable curriculum. These processes take time.
In addition, we need to dramatically increase the welfare of our teachers, it will result in full dedication to their students. To escape the “axis of evil” in education, we have to shift the mind-set of our students, teachers and parents. Good education will be the result of the co-operation by these parties.
If these ideas are not actualized, the future of education in the country will worsen and be disastrous for the next generation. It is time for us to commemorate this month of education by taking real actions.
The writer is a lecturer in the School of Education, English Department, Atma Jaya University, Jakarta.