Yesterday in the newspaper, there is a column criticizing about the educational business in Indonesia, more specifically about cost and government educational budget allocation.
In the recent years, there’s idea about raising the local education to international standard. Nothing’s wrong with that, right? It sounds pretty on paper. Problem is the practice.
Earlier, there’s acceleration class, which is supposed to be giving more intensive learning to better learners so they don’t have to slow down their pace to match slower learners. The practice, this is like parents telling their children to study intensively 24/7 in various extra curricular trainings in order to add more stars and medals to their portfolio in fear that their children would live a miserable life because they’re crushed by competition if they don’t have an astonishing CV with dozens of skills. Oh, and the acceleration class of course came with a price to pay.
“Competence” curriculum is made, while in fact this is just making schools trying to build their reputation by passing the examination. The target is not to be good, but to look good. Thus, national examination controversy and schools that give intensive lessons after class to help their students passing the exam, only for the exam because even then they already don’t have enough time to worry about future far ahead (we have more urgent problem here, the national exam).
Then, new category of school is created. They call is international-grade school and international-grade pioneer school. Both got government fund to help their operational. That’s the idea, and idea are ideal. It’s hoped that with these international-grade school, the students can compete internationally.
Now the problem. There used to be what’s called “favourite school”, which is schools that earned reputation for their quality, prestige, and good track record of getting graduates to preferred places. This happens from natural selection and the school’s own effort of building that reputation. But now, we’re practically having government-certified “favourite” label to any school who had the right political connection and money to afford it.
These international grade school get government education fund, even though they already ask for higher payment from the parents (free education? Oh, what a beautiful dream you have there. What? Reality? You must be joking me). In contrary, school that do really need the money to be able to get to that international grade, doesn’t get it, because they’re not there yet. Sweet. Like, let’s keep on promoting Windows that already sells well and let smaller never-heard-before products get a name for themselves first before we help them stand and get the credit, besides, this is a world of looking good, not doing good. They will just go with the “winning team”. No, really, in those school’s case, money and connection works too.
What makes a school “international-grade” ? Some of it are…
- Use of foreign language, such as English and Mandarin. Indonesian (de jure, de facto, the national language here)? That’s for inlander. I had enough seeing parents that acts like proxy server to their English-speaking-only children to shield them from making contact with local language in country they’re living in. Just send your children to full time resident in Singapore.
- International curriculum, bought from foreign institutions. Works well for this import-minded society. BTW, another critic in earlier column states that these curriculum are not adapted for Indonesian culture either. As long as it looks good, it’s good.
- Availability of facilities, such as air conditioning, sports hall, football field, swimming pool, etc. This is probably where the government fund are actually flowing other than the school board’s wallet. Which reminds me, hotels also get star rating mostly based on facilities provided and this could give ridiculous price inflation too. Quality is later thought because that can’t be quantified easily using distinctive means such as checklist.
In the end, as 4chan folks like to make it, put a facepalm picture here.