Friday, June 26, 2009

Jakarta Post : Teaching last option, says Muslim intellectuals group

Teaching last option, says Muslim intellectuals group

Adianto P. Simamora , THE JAKARTA POST , JAKARTA | Fri, 06/26/2009 1:06 PM | Headlines

The quality of the country's teachers remains in doubt as those choosing the profession do so to keep their families happy or as a last resort, a new survey reveals.

The Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI), which surveyed about 300 senior high school teachers (SMU) in Jakarta, Banten and South Sumatra, found that 45 percent of teachers chose the profession as a last resort.

"They are *forced' to be teachers because they have been unemployed for a certain time or because of family pressure," chairman of the ICMI's qualified education movement (Gerutas) program, Husni Rahim, said in a seminar Thursday.

"Such teachers prefer to complain about the poor condition of infrastructure or welfare, rather than seek ways to improve the quality of the students."

The study showed that only 54 percent of teachers were happy with their jobs.

"The teacher that were happy were those who had chosen a career in teaching. In practice, those teachers work to educate students from their heart," he said.

Gerutas claimed the study represented the real condition of teachers all over the country. Gerutas, a new program under the ICMI, is designed to encourage teachers to improve their professional skills and boost the country's education system. Under the program, the teachers will receive intensive training, in topics such as, English, math, biology, physics and chemistry.

"We expect to train 2,000 teachers in five years," he said.

The Education Ministry said it would assess the competency of teachers to improve the quality of education in Indonesia.

Indonesia has only recently conducted certification programs to determine the qualifications of teachers based on their portfolios.

Data from the ministry showed that 360,000 teachers in Indonesia were certified.

Chairman of the ICMI expert board, Ginandjar Kartasasmita, said the poor quality of teachers was due to the low pay.

"Everyone believes that teachers are central to the development of the nation, but it is strange the welfare of teachers is not in line with their *noble' efforts," he said.

The state of education in the country has long been a political issue in the country.

The three presidential candidates have promised to raise the quality of education by allocating more money to the system.

The government currently allocates 20 percent of the state budget to the education sector.

Dozens of activists from the Education Coalition said Thursday that the presidential candidates lacked realistic and essential education programs.

Activist Roy Salam, a member of the coalition said that candidates as well as their campaign teams had failed to face the real problems. "For example, SBY-Boediono offered 20 percent of the state budget for education. That is not an offer, but an obligation. Whoever the next president is, they must implement the 20 percent budget for education as it is stated in our Constitution," he said.

Another member, Bambang Wisudo, said that candidates had offered free education, but failed to explain how it would be provided.

"What do they mean by *free school'? Is this for tuition only? Or does it include books and other expenses? No explanations at all," Bambang said.

Ade Irawan from Indonesia Corruption Watch highlighted the lack of commitment to eradicating corruption in the education sector. "It's no secret a that corrupt practices occur in almost all education institutions, from ministry offices to the schools." (bbs)

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