Education has become one of the most indispensable elements for national development program in Indonesia. Consequently, the revitalization of the national policies in education is part of Indonesia’s constant struggle, especially in formulating the best system to ensure the quality education.
Increasing national budget, building more schools, creating new curriculum and other policies are made to meet the goals. The current budgeting is enabling Ministry of Education (MoE) to run some programs such as operational spending for school (BOS) which provides free school for grade one until nine, improvement of infrastructure and facilities empowerment as well as teacher training.
Not only on the area of budgeting, MoE is currently tries to improve the educational schooling system by changing the approach on schooling system and curriculum. There have been 13 curriculum implemented since 1947 until 2013. The last curriculum used in Indonesia is the 2013 curriculum. Despite its controversy and the rush, the 2013 curriculum has been claimed to restore character education and students’ creative thinking.
However, all attempts done by the government seem to bring little significance for our education, especially in the frontier regions. Based on the observation of the writer who is working in Landak Regency, West Borneo, the issue of education in remote areas remains as a huge problem. The proliferation of education in the frontier regions of Indonesia shows a very slow progress. The lack of teachers, school building and books are some of the main issues to consider.
Regarding to quality education, figuring out the solutions upon the educational problems in Indonesia has become the concern of everyone. Among some issues which affect the quality of education is the quality of teachers. In teaching and learning, the role of teacher is very essential. Teachers are the one who will motivate and guide the students to achieve success not only academically but also non-academically. Having important role does not mean that teacher should be the only one dominating in a classroom. Rather, a teacher should be able to be facilitator for students’ learning.
What a teacher does in a classroom reflects the expectation of school and education system as general toward the students. Therefore, they must be able to provide security and protection both physically and psychologically for the students. Considering the central role of teachers in teaching and learning, recruiting the best teacher candidates is mandatory for quality education. Some advance countries in education such as Finland, Japan, and South Korea have always tried to sort out the best teacher candidates to work in education.
In Finland for example, in order to apply for a teaching position, applicants should hold a master degree in education. Not only that, a rigorous national examination should be passed on before they get into the position. In Japan and South Korea, after passing on the national selection, there will be long and intensive training for teacher candidates. Having said that, those who will eventually teach in their classroom will be the best of the best.
In Indonesia, being teachers still has some challenges. The first challenge is its lack of comprehensive teachers training. According to writer’s experience, most universities only implement short-term internship for teacher candidates. This internship approximately lasts only 2–3 months. Although most teacher candidates will have microteaching session before having teaching practice, they are really lack of exposure and experience upon real teaching practice.
The scarcity of teaching awareness and social support is another issue encountered by our education. As compared to being doctor or lawyer, being teacher is viewed less as compared to other professions such as doctors and lawyers. The way how people see teachers really matters because it gives appreciation for the profession socially.
Another challenge faced by Indonesian teacher is the financial issue or salary. Even though as compared to other job, teachers have higher salary, this is relatively small. This triggers central government to launch certification program for teachers. Those who are qualified will get double salary per month. Government expects to improve teachers’ professionalism. However, for those who work as non-permanent teachers, their performance is incredibly underpaid. Most of them even receive under $30 per month.
In responding to such issues, there are some possible solutions to overcome the problems. First solution is to level up the requirements of being teachers. The civil servant test (CPNS) is solely measuring the test takers on their general knowledge. Special for teacher candidates, the test should involve the interview and pedagogical practice to make sure they have expected qualification as teacher. The test will require the candidates to show their performance in class management, knowledge transfer, etc.
Second possible solution is to give intensive training and opportunity to public service for one or two year internship before going to the real work. Several programs such as Indonesia Mengajar from Yayasan Indonesia Mengajar and graduate teaching the isolated area (SM3T) are the examples of good programs to broaden the teachers’ vision and missions in teaching. Besides, they will be able to apply their knowledge and help the students who cannot access proper education.
The last but not the least is to intensify the relationship between school, family, and society. We must realize that quality education is a product of integration between school, family, and society. Teaching and learning is not solely the responsibility of school. Parents and society are also in charge for the quality of education for their children. This does not merely mean to provide financial and physical support but also the psychological and moral support. Family and society should understand the program offered by schools and teachers. They should know what they have to follow up after students get back home from school. This bond and trust will eventually improve the education to another level.
Being teacher is not only a profession which requires passion and dedication, but also commitment and security for their social, psychological and financial aspects. Therefore, the quality of education in Indonesia can be ensured because the teachers are qualified as “the anchor”.