Anies needed to work hard to solve the many problems

Education and Culture Minister Anies Baswedan is on the right track toward improving the quality of national education, say education experts. 

“He has made a good start in efforts to revamp the country’s education system during his first year in office,” Arief Rahman, an education expert from Jakarta State University (UNJ), said on Monday.

He said it helped that Anies had the personality and ability to bring people from different backgrounds together under the ministry.

Federation for Indonesian Teachers Associations (FSGI) secretary-general Retno Listyarti also lauded Anies’ performance.

“Achievements worth praising include his decision to suspend the 2013 national curriculum and not using the national exam as the only factor in determining graduation,” Retno said.

Anies officially suspended in December the implementation of the much-criticized 2013 national curriculum — which was first implemented by his predecessor, Mohammad Nuh — owing to its complicated teaching and scoring mechanisms, which had confused students, parents and teachers.

Anies said on Monday that, until now, the ministry had been working to review the content of the curriculum.

“We are reviewing the content so that the new curriculum is well-implemented,” Anies said during a discussion at his office in Jakarta.

Anies said he aimed to complete the review by the end of the year, but acknowledged that it could take years for the curriculum to be implemented.

“We are prioritizing quality,” he said.

Anies also announced in December that the national exam would no longer be the sole determinant of graduation. The decision won praise from many quarters.

Under Anies’ predecessors, the national exam was the only factor that determined graduation, while school exams and reports contributed nothing to the evaluation process. Many students experienced depression and anxiety about failing, which led to cheating and even suicide.

In spite of the progress, both Retno and Arief said that Anies needed to work hard to solve the many problems plaguing the country’s education system.

Retno said that Anies had yet to form a comprehensive plan to improve the quality of teachers. 

“Teachers need training based on their subjects beside tests, because the tests won’t improve their teaching skills,” Retno said.

She said that improving the quality of teachers was more important than reviewing curriculum. 

“No matter how good the curriculum is, nothing will change if teachers aren’t qualified. Qualified teachers will be able to develop strong students, even with poor curriculum,” she said.

Meanwhile, Arief said he hoped that the minister would also focus on ensuring the distribution of education-related facilities.

“All schools in the archipelago are supposed to have the same infrastructure quality,”

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