Sat, 09 Dec 2000

Autonomy and education

Ross Worthington, a graduate in public policy from the Australian National University, said that Indonesia needed five to 10 years to make the necessary preparations for the implementation of regional autonomy (The Jakarta Post, Nov. 25, 2000).

He also added that the government should intensify education and training programs to prepare qualified human resources in both the bureaucracy and private sector.

Considering the implementation of autonomy in Indonesia particularly in the educational field, I feel a little bit pessimistic or doubtful about its success, especially when referring to the educational achievements in the United States as illustrated by Forrest W. Parkay in Becoming a teacher (1998) as issued by IAEP.

Parkay pointed out that U.S. students achieve only 55 percent in mathematics compared to Korea: 73 percent, Soviet Union: 70 percent, Hungary: 68 percent and Canada: 62 percent.

The same is true with science and geography. In science U.S. students achieve 67 percent compared to Korea and Hungary with 78 percent and 73 percent respectively. For geography U.S. students achieve 62 percent compared to Hungary: 70 percent and Slovenia: 65 percent.

In other words, the U.S. maintains the ninth rank in mathematics, the eighth in science and the fifth in geography. Note that the U.S. adopts the decentralized curriculum system.

Upon learning all these facts I wonder if autonomy in our educational administration system in Indonesia will bring about better results or quality. We shouldn't be too pleased with the plan for regional autonomy if the impacts may negatively affect the education system.

Autonomy may be good when viewed from the aspect of delegation of power but may be harmful to other sectors. So let us consider what was addressed by Mr. Ross about autonomy before we adopt it.