Future of Indonesia depends on new curriculum: Minister

Bagus BT Saragih, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Tue, February 19 2013, 9:56 AM

Paper Edition | Page: 4

Education and Culture Minister Mohammad Nuh says that the ministry will go ahead with its plan to implement the new national curriculum in July this year, despite mounting criticism from teachers and education experts.

Speaking at a discussion held by the Golkar Party faction at the House of Representatives complex on Monday, Nuh said that the ministry would not postpone the implementation of the new curriculum later this year, as it could further cause the deterioration in the country’s education quality.

“The future of this nation depends on the new curriculum,” Nuh said.

The new curriculum has come under a barrage of criticism for dropping science in favor of civics and instruction on religion. As previously reported, the new curriculum will consist mostly of civic education and religion with science being integrated into the two subjects.

Details from the new curriculum have also become the target of ridicule by activists. An sample civics lesson states that a 10th grade student must learn discipline from the behavior of an electron, which always moves within its orbit.

It also has lessons that require students to learn to live in a heterogeneous society by studying linear and non-linear equations.

Nuh insisted that there was nothing funny about integrating civics and religious education with chemistry. “Students haven’t been taught enough to think creatively. Education should be both accurate and offer the best lesson, and this can be achieved by teaching them to be creative,” he said.

Nuh also defended the ministry’s decision to add extra hours for religion.

He said that the ministry hoped the additional two hours allocated for religious studies could help the nation’s terrorism eradication program.

“Terrorism is not triggered by long hours of lessons on religion. The growing acts of terrorism were basically due to incomplete religious education. Therefore, we need to add more hours for religious subjects,” he said.

To prepare for the implementation of the new curriculum, Nuh said that the ministry would give teachers 52 hours of training, as well as mentoring sessions during the first few months of the 2013/2014 academic year.

Separately, Retno Listyarti, the chair of the Jakarta Teachers Discussion Forum (FSGI), said that 52 hours of training would not be enough to prepare teachers for the new curriculum.

“It would be very hard to instruct and force teachers to apply this new curriculum, with the hope of teaching about heterogenous society from math,” Retno said.

Indonesian Teachers Association (PGRI) chairman Sulistyo concurred with Retno, saying that teachers would not be ready by July, when the new curriculum would be implemented.

“The ministry should have first focused on improving teachers’ competence, as there are still a lot of teachers without sufficient training,” Sulistyo said. “And now the government wants to prepare the teachers for the new curriculum. I suppose that will be very difficult.”

Nuh denied suggestions that the ministry rushed to implement the new curriculum by disregarding teachers’ preparedness.

He also said that books both for students and teachers would be ready by the end of February, as they were already in the hands of proofreaders.

Meanwhile, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono applauded the new curriculum, saying that it could be used to improve religious tolerance.

“Education should not only make people smart but also to train Indonesians to be mentally tough, physically healthy, tolerant and willing to live in harmony with others with different religions, race, and tribes. By preparing a tolerance-centered curriculum, intolerance, which can be violent, can be stopped upstream,” Yudhoyono told ministers during the opening of a plenary Cabinet meeting at the State Palace.

Schools must produce tolerant graduates: SBY

Bagus T Saragih, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Mon, February 18 2013, 7:16 PM

On the heels of several violent incidents against Christian congregations across the nation, on Monday President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reiterated the importance of tolerance in school curricula.

“We are educating people not only to make them smart but also to produce Indonesians who are mentally tough, physically healthy, tolerant and willing to live in harmony with others of different religion, race, and tribe,” Yudhoyono told his ministers  when opening a plenary Cabinet meeting at the State Palace.

Yudhoyono cited Pakistan as a country with citizens who are “unwilling to live in harmony and accept others with different backgrounds.”

The President said, “On TV last night there was another bombing in Pakistan. The people there are not ready to accept others of different faiths, such as Sunni and Shia.”

By creating a tolerance-centered curriculum, such violence could be stopped “upstream”, he said.

Last week, churches in different parts of the nation suffered Molotov cocktail attacks and violent threats.

In Makassar, South Sulawesi, the five churches that were attacked by vigilantes wielding Molotov cocktails last week held mass on Sunday.

In Tambora, West Jakarta, the Damai Kristus Catholic Church also held Sunday services, despite threats from the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) to use force to disperse the congregation. The extremist group whose members engage in vigilante violence, potentially against anyone who does not agree with them, claim that the church lacks a construction permit.