Revolutionizing Indonesia’s Education System

By Jimmy (XII IPS-2)

The 2nd winner of the National Essay Writing Contest


Indonesia has been reported to be doing well in economy and to have achieve many academic rewards and medals. However, despite the achievements, according to Human Development Report 2016 by UNDP, Indonesia occupies the position of 113 of 188 countries in human development, added by various internal conflicts starting from corruption cases, radicalism, until controversial Full Day School Programme of which the factor of human’s quality becomes the root of the problems. Why do these happen?  Concerning this condition, in this essay, I am going to discuss why we need to revolutionize our education system.

First of all, Indonesia’s education system does not function according to its purpose. Our curriculum aims to improve the students’ skills in Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity or the 4Cs. Yet, we can’t achieve good communication skills if we are demanded to remain silent and listen obediently to the lectures we are not interested in, nor can we achieve collaboration skill if competition and class or school academic ranks are highly prioritized. Likewise, we cannot think critically if we learn only for knowledge rather than for thinking skills and ‘critical thinking attitude’(Ennis, 1986), and we can’t express our creativity if we are fixed on a big number of school lessons, which are not from our own passions.

In addition, Indonesian schools focus too heavily on academic skills. Indonesian students are taught to be ‘Jack of all trades, but master of none’ which means they are taught to be dabbled in many skills, rather than gaining expertise by focusing on one. This has made students become less creative as they are bombarded by the number of lessons that they have to learn at school. Moreover, the lessons requiring cognitive skills such as math, physics, economics,  are considered to have higher positions rather than those requiring creativity such as art, dance, or physical education. Consequently, students with non academic skills will regard themselves as more inferior than those with high academic performance as experienced Gillian Lynne, a popular ballet dancer, whose talent in dancing was ironicly discovered by a doctor, and not by a teacher, due to her low academic performance at school.

Further, Indonesian schools commonly emphasize on knowledge, not on values. There is a quote saying “Knowledge is Power”, but I think that is inaccurate. Knowledge is not power, but applying what you have learned is the real power. Knowledge is when you learn about things, and values is when you apply what you have learned. In Indonesia, rather than learning in order to gain living values for our lives, students only learn to memorize facts or theories for tests or grades. It is no wonder that most of Indonesian students try to use any possible way to achieve good grades, including cheating. Thus, it is obvious that our education system has indirectly encouraged “cheating culture” among students.

Lastly, Indonesian teachers are less appreciated. Based on Education Efficiency Index, Indonesia is the worst in appreciating their teachers. From 30 surveyed countries, Swiss pays the highest salary for teachers with $68.000 or about Rp 950.000.000/year, followed by the Netherland, Germany and France, with the average salary of $33.000/year. Meanwhile, Indonesia is on the last rank with the salary about $2.830 or Rp 39.000.000/year. Government’s teachers have the income on the range of Rp 1.486.500 and Rp 5.620.300/month, and according to the letter from Pengurus Besar Persatuan Guru Republik Indonesa, the average income of non-government’s teacher on 2012 was Rp200.000/month. These facts obviously point out that teachers are treated inappropriately, despite their huge contribution to education. Teacher is without a doubt, a hero. The future of our young generation depends on our teachers. A doctor can save people’s life, but a teacher can change people’s whole life by shaping their personality as a better person.

From the discussion above, evidently, Indonesia’s education system cannot accomodate the demands of the global era. I agree with our President’s idea, a mental revolution! Stop reforming our education system! Instead, to make rapid improvement, we must revolutionize our education system by giving the lessons that truly fit the needs and interests of students since elementary education, infusing ‘values’ and thinking skills rather than transfering knowledge, and giving our educators a decent appreciation and a bigger role in developing the curriculum! The small country like Finland is doing best in education, so, why Indonesia as a big country couldn’t ?

(due to the limited space, this essay has been summarized without changing its essence)

Leave a comment