I have written a few posts about the directions that Indonesia’s schools should take. Sekolah berstandar internasional (SBI) seems to be the education-related idea most talked about Indonesia. This SBI idea itself is a move in the right direction, provided that everyone concerned is clear about what it should be. It is not just about getting the school certified as an international examination center. It is not just about having science or computer laboratories. It is, as I have indicated in an earlier post, not about all that glitters. It is at the end of the day the quality of the learning and teaching.
In some other posts, I have also suggested using David Perkins’ Smart School model with its emphasis on deep learning and thinking as model for the creation of an SBI. It is not to create a school where the focus is on the creation of examinations-smart students like we tend to see in countries like Singapore. It is about producing students with an attitude and the skills to fit the future that these students will live in.
For Indonesia, it becomes even more important that schools aspiring to be world-class educational institutions should emphasize on the importance of thinking among its student population. The learning of thinking skills ought to be emphasized. This is because Indonesia today is a young democracy. In democratic states, it is a requirement for the democracy to succeed that its people be able to make informed and intelligent choices. They must also be people who are actively participative in the democratic process, able to look beyond themselves. An authoritarian educational system like the traditional systems we see in schools in even countries with supposedly good education system like Singapore, will never be able to produce citizens for a democracy. The over-emphasis on competition in schools only breeds undemocratic attitudes and values because the emphasis in such competitive environments is the individual’s own success. A system that emphasizes only examinations will not encourage space for thinking either as there is usually little time for anything else except examination preparation which is the raison detre of such schools. Yet the need for a thinking population is vital for a democracy to work.
For the above reasons, Indonesian schools must avoid just blindly aping neighbours’ educational system. The values of their neighbours may differ from that of Indonesia. No doubt some of the values that these neighbouring countries represent is good, like hard work and honesty but do Indonesians really want to copy everything without thinking through the implications for her future.