Wed, 23 Feb 2000

Indonesia to introduce new education curriculum

JAKARTA (JP): Setting its sights on lifting national scholastic aptitude to new standards, the government will introduce a core education curriculum in the school year beginning in July.

Minister of National Education Yahya Muhaimin said on Tuesday the curriculum, which is part of a gradual overhaul of the national education system, identified mathematics, Bahasa Indonesia and general scientific knowledge as the core subjects.

He added that sweeping reforms in national education -- which are expected to be completed in five years -- would reduce the academic burden on students and free them to enjoy more extracurricular activities.

"The idea is to squeeze down the number of classes to three major subjects that actually cover all important aspects of education."

In addition, students will study subjects tailored to the particular demands and development of their local areas. Computer studies and English, for example, could be a concentration in tourist areas.

Since taking office in early November last year, Yahya, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has often expressed concern about the overloaded curriculum.

"The load of the recent curriculum has given our children inadequate time to develop their creativity," Yahya said, noting that students in other countries were not saddled with as many classes as their Indonesian peers.

The current curriculum has raised persistent complaints since it took effect in 1994. It consists of 10 compulsory subjects for elementary and advanced school levels, with two local content studies.

Yahya's announcement followed the popular saying "a new education minister, a new curriculum".

When he took over from Juwono Sudarsono, Yahya ruled out replacement of the present curriculum, saying he would instead improve materials to support government efforts to produce conscientious students.

The 1994 curriculum, which replaced one introduced in 1984, followed the appointment of Wardiman Djojonegoro as the minister of education and culture the same year.

Under the proposed 2000 curriculum, the ministry will also concentrate on history, geography and moral instruction, which will be part of general scientific knowledge.

"The three subjects are important in building the students' character," Yahya said.

In history and geography classes, students will be provided with supplementary materials which contain corrections, summarization and clarification of outdated textbooks, he said.

Particularly for history, the supplementary materials will cover only the facts, without offering analysis or conclusions.

Yahya said each region would be free to choose local content studies that could help students develop resources in their areas.

"In coastal areas, it will be better if the students have training in maritime issues. While in the rural areas, maybe they could be taught about agriculture."

To ensure maximum results from the new curriculum, Yahya said he was considering a new teaching method focusing on greater student participation in classes.

"The new method would be accompanied by teacher training," Yahya said. (04)