Why Minister Nadiem Makarim is eliminating National Examinations in 2021

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New minister has tremendous business success to impel his programs forward. (Photo: Prive. Doc)

 IO, Jakarta – Minister of Education and Culture (Menteri Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan – “Mendikbud”) Nadiem Makarim has stipulated a four-point national learning program called the “Merdeka Belajar” or “Freedom Learning “. 

“The program is comprised of National Standard School Examinations (Ujian Sekolah Berstandar Nasional – “USBN”), National Examinations (Ujian National – “UN”), Learning (Rencana Pelaksanaan Pembelajaran – “RPP”), and the Zoning New Educational Participant Acceptance Regulation (Peraturan Penerimaan Peserta Didik Baru – “PPDB”),” he declared at Bidakara Hotel, Pancoran, South Jakarta, on Wednesday (11/12/2019). “These four educational policy programs will direct our formal learning in the future, so that we can focus our learning according to the directions of the President and Vice President, i.e. towards overall improvement in the quality of our human resources.” 

The four programs are described as follows: First, the new USBN in 2020 will be held only by individual schools. Examinations, in the form of written tests, or in other, more comprehensive forms of assessment (e.g. creating portfolios or paper, or performing other tasks), are carried out in order to assess students’ competence. Such assessments can be made towards individual students or groups of students. “Therefore, the teachers and schools will be given more latitude when assessing the students’ learning results,” Nadiem said. “USBN’s budget can then be diverted towards teachers and schools’ capacity building. This will improve the quality of learning,” he said. 

Second, Nadiem stated that the 2020 UN will be the final one. “In 2021, UN will be transformed into the Minimum Competence Assessment and Character Survey. This is a test of reasoning abilities with words (literacy), reasoning abilities using numbers (numeracy), and strengthening of character education,” he said. 

Nadiem then elaborated that “literacy” is more than an ability to read. It is the ability to analyze what is being read, so that one can understand the concepts and ideas behind the text. “Numeracy” is the ability to analyze through numbers. He reiterates that “literacy” and “numeracy” are not linguistic or mathematical skills, but the ability of the students to analyze a material using words and numbers. “These are two things that will simplify our assessment of students’ competence from 2021 on. It is no longer based on courses, nor based on mastery of the course materials and content. This is based on the minimum level of the basic competences that the students will need to learn, no matter what the material may be,” he said. 

Minister Nadiem also mentioned a “character survey”. What is the format like? 

He stated that the Government so far only has the students’ cognitive data, but there is barely any data in the context of their learning ecosystem. “For example, we don’t know whether Indonesian students really feel the essence of the principles of Pancasila or not. Therefore, the character survey will ask the students and schools various questions about their learning ecosystem. How do students implement the principle of cooperation at school? Does the school have a healthy level of tolerance? Do the students have good well-being, are they healthy and happy? Is there bullying towards any student in the school?” Nadiem said. 

The Minimum Competence Assessment and Character Survey that will replace National Examinations will be held in the middle of the school level, unlike UN, which has always been held at the end of each educational level. “For example, we will hold these Examinations in the 4th Grade of Elementary School instead of the 6th, in the 8th Grade of Middle School instead of the 9th, and in the 11th Grade of High School instead of the 12th,” Nadiem said. 

This is because holding these Examinations mid-level will allow educators to improve the quality of the students as necessary, whether they are about to graduate from Elementary School, Middle School, or High School. It is impossible to improve the results of the assessments and surveys if they are only known at the end of the school level. These Examination results will show the teachers which students require extra help in order to achieve the targeted quality. Holding the assessment mid-level is also expected to reduce the mental burden of students and parents regarding “Final Exams”. “Because they are performed mid-level, these Examinations cannot be used as a means to select our students in a higher-level school, and it would no longer cause any stress among the students and their parents. The Exam is a formative one, which means that it is meant to upgrade the students, the teachers, and the schools as a whole,” Nadiem said. 

Minimum Competence Assessment and Character Survey will be performed with the help of both national and international organizations, including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank. The purpose of cooperation with these trans-national agencies is to raise the quality of Indonesian students to international level, “As well as to ensure that they also contain our local wisdom. We are all cooperating for better assessment of our students’ competences,” he said. “The policies also refer to the good practices in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), one of OECD’s programs, as well as Trends in International Mathematical and Scientific Studies (TIMSS).” (des)