Tue, 11 Oct 1994

New school week must not reduce information

JAKARTA (JP): The five-day school week, now being tried out in elementary schools countrywide, should aimed at improving students' social life, a pedagogue said yesterday.

Abdul Kodir said he feared many educators saw the scheme as a way to cram as much information into the pupil's heads.

The rector of the Bandung Teachers' Training and Education Institute (IKIP) suggested that the shorter school week be used to teach social values through better teacher-student communication.

"Loading them with information will not be effective because children of elementary school age can absorb only 30 percent of what they are taught at school," he said as quoted by the Antara news agency.

If they were to receive more information through more school hours, they would only be more tired, Kodir said.

He said what he considered as "mere informative education" was like "teaching them that two and two make four," while enhancing social life and teacher-pupil communications was like "showing them that four piles of sticks equals two piles of sticks ... and comparing them with five piles of sticks," he said.

Kodir admitted he has not yet decided whether he is for or against the five-day school week because the tryouts were implemented by the schools on a voluntary basis.

"The new scheme can only be effective if its implementation is based on the actual situation of each school and if the curriculum and supporting facilities, such as sports halls and laboratories, are adequate," he argued.

He stressed the importance of ingraining reading habits in children during their elementary school years.

He warned that without reforming the learning-teaching techniques, a five-day school week would only mean moving several subjects, which were originally held on Saturdays, to Fridays and lengthening school hours from Monday to Friday.

"If you intend to make a five-day school week a success, all you need is more money," he stressed, adding that this was not impossible considering that many parents were willing to sacrifice money for the sake of better education for their children. (pwn)