IO – “Exactly one year ago, President Joko Widodo and Vice President Ma’aruf Amin announced that the priority of their administration was the development of excellent human capital. What does that signify? According to the Great Dictionary of the Indonesian language, excellent means smarter, better, more capable, stronger, longer lasting, etc) than others; prime, superior. This means that Indonesian people must be smarter or more competent than other nationalities.
In my opinion, this program is most appropriate, because it must be admitted that Indonesia has yet to become an excellent nation. One of the tools to measure a country’s global standing in terms of human capital quality is the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) score. PISA is a worldwide study of 15-yearold students’ performance on reading, math, and science, one which has become a benchmark for international education.
Since it was launched for the first time in 2000, Indonesia has never demonstrated its excellence in PISA. In 2018, Indonesians scored 371 for reading, while the OECD countries average was 487. Indonesia scored 379 for math, compared to OECD’s 489. And in science, Indonesia’s score was 396 while OECD average was 489. This shows that the quality of Indonesian human capital is far from excellent. Indeed, it is significantly below other countries’ average.
A more in-depth insight can be gained from the comparison be-
tween Indonesian and Vietnamese” “students against OECD average in reading. 55.4% of Indonesian students were grouped in level 1 (the lowest), while for Vietnam it was only 13.9% and the OECD average was 20.1%. Vietnam and other OECD countries were mostly placed at level 3 (Vietnam at 35.2% and OECD countries at 27.9%). This explains Indonesian students’ weaker ability to learn. If they are not doing well in reading, according to the World Bank they are categorised as functionally illiterate, meaning they can read but not necessarily comprehend what they are reading. If they are poor in reading, then Indonesian human capital won’t be able to learn much. In turn, the quality of its human capital will be lower.
Furthermore, the distribution of Indonesian students’ reading ability above shows a skewed trend because the majority of them are at the lowest level or level 1, while the majority of Vietnamese and other OECD countries’ students were at the intermediate level, or level 3. From the data we can infer that attending school in Indonesia actually makes children more stupid.
In a talk show with a private television station, I once said that the biggest problem faced by our Indonesian educational system is a lack of evaluation and nonexistent blueprint/grand design/road map. The Education and Culture Ministry’s latest attempt to create a road map for Indonesian education is unfortunately still confusing in many respects.
I argued that if we are to create a road map, we should learn from Gojek. When we use the ride-hailing app it clearly shows the pickup point, the destination point, and how much it costs. On the contrary, there is no clarity in the Education and Culture Ministry’s roadmap – where the program starts, what objectives is it trying to achieve, and how much it costs to achieve these objectives in what the Harvard Business School calls a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound) manner.
If we want to learn the latest lesson in planning, Harvard Business School popularised the acronym FAST. This means that there should be frequent discussions with the public because the government affairs are public affairs, ambitious in scope, able to measured using specific metrics and milestones, and transparent to all stakeholders to see.
PISA data can be used as a starting point for the Indonesian human capital development program, very much like the pick-up point in the Gojek application. Unfortunately, this has never been mentioned in the formulation of Indonesian education programs.
The Center for Education Economics (CfEE), a London-based educational research organization, in its study of the Indonesian education system titled “15 Years of Education in Indonesia: Rising Enrolment and Flat Learn-
ing Profiles” published in Annual” “Research Digest 2017-2018 found that there has been no significant improvement in the quality of Indonesian education all this time, due to people’s complacency towards the education sector. Everyone thinks that everything is fine, but when we look at the country’s poor PISA results there is clearly something wrong with the Indonesian education system. The study also showed that the government’s programs in education tend to be “same old, same old” while the education budget continues to rise. This can be summed up as BAUWMM (Business As Usual With More Money). How about our education pro-
gram in the last one year? We heard about the Mobilisation School Program, Mobilisation Teacher Program, Mobilisation Organisation Program (POP), the elimination of the National Examination (UN), and the simplification of the national curriculum, as announced by the Education and Culture Ministry. Are these new innovations? What happened to the core schools, international standard pilot-project schools (RSBI), and reference schools program enacted by the previous minister? What about the core teacher, teacher learner, and continuous professional development (PKB) programs for teachers? And what about the moniker change from National Final Learning Evaluation (EBTANAS) to National Exam (UN) and now to National Assessment?
Also, the curriculum constantly changes along with the change in the Education and Culture Ministry’s leadership, such as the competency-based curriculum (KBK), the school level autonomy curriculum (KTSP), the 2013 curriculum, the revision to the 2013 curriculum, and the simplified curriculum. The Freedom to Learn Program itself was later known to be a trademark of a foreign company which happened to be an advisor to the incumbent Education and Culture Minister. The same concept—Educational Organization Community (KOP)-was reintroduced as POP in 2019, which is actually not much different from the MGMP Reborn program of the previous Education and Culture Minister.
At a glance, it can be said that there is no new innovation in the Education and Culture Ministry’s program. It’s all about changes in names, and of course, more budget. For example, the budget allocated for the 2020 national examination was Rp200 billion, while for the national assessment next year the budget has ballooned to Rp1.4 trillion. This has dashed our high hopes for Minister Nadiem Makarim, a Millennial whose background as the esteemed founder of a successful digital start-up company, to bring about dramatic changes in the Indonesian education sector as the backbone of excellent human capital development.
Albert Einstein once said that madness is doing the same thing
over and over again but expect-” “ing different results. If we expect a change in the quality of Indonesian human capital, then our education programs must change substantially, not just in name. This requires a comprehensive, objective, and transparent evaluation of ongoing and discontinued educational programs, and it should not be aimed at seeking someone to be held responsible for past mistakes but rather breakthrough solutions to the problem.
After the evaluation is completed, there needs to be a blueprint/ grand design/road map for Indonesian education with a clear starting point and final destination, time frame, and the costs required to achieve these goals. The pandemic seems like the perfect time to summon the nation’s best brains, educational leaders and experts to share their thoughts in creating a blueprint for Indonesian education. Do not let something that is so crucial to the future of this nation be decided by an elite group in a non-transparent manner, which will definitely raise public suspicion.
It has to be admitted that one year later, Jokowi-Ma’aruf’s Indonesia Moving Forward program has yet to move anywhere. With or without a pandemic, this program must be realized because it is in the best interest of the nation. It seems that this program must be directly supervised by President Jokowi himself, as what he did in his previous administration’s signature infrastructure development projects which have shown clear progress. The Indonesian people are still optimistic that the country’s demographic bonus and “Golden Indonesia” dream can still be realised.”