Category: Education

Indonesia not fussed bout science and maths in English

For many normal countries like Indonesia, getting instruction in English is something desirable and they move ahead, maybe slowly but surely,  in an increasingly globalized world. Countries like Malaysia seems bent on moving in the opposite direction. Malaysia Boleh!

Students being taught English in an open-space class in Aceh. The use of English as the language of instruction at national schools is limited to some 700 schools out of 5,000. (Antara Photo)

via the Jakarta Globe:

Ministry Turns a Deaf Ear to Critics Over Use of English in the Classroom

While the use of English as a language of instruction in schools has often sparked controversy, the government says it is unlikely to follow neighbor Malaysia and drop the use of English for math and science classes.

The Ministry of National Education’s director general of management for primary and secondary schools, Suyanto, told the Jakarta Globe the ministry would stick to its agenda of increasing the number of schools that use English for math and science lessons.

“No way will we drop it,” he said. “Students have a great capacity to learn, so we should encourage them.”

Last week, the Malaysian government announced that it would dump English as the language of instruction for math and science in schools. Malaysia’s deputy prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, as reported by Agence France-Presse, said his government was convinced that science and math needed to be taught in a language that would be easily understood by students.

Critics of Malaysia’s nation-wide policy of teaching these two subjects in English say that student performance has declined since the policy’s introduction in 2003, and that it is particularly unfair for children who are not proficient in the language.

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Another idiotic headline and buried story in the Post

Here we go again with idiotic, firm-grasp-of-the-obvious headlines in the Jakarta Post.In which exam are there not tears of joy, sadness greeting the results? So long as there are exams it has been such and it will continue to be such so long as there are are exams. And this as the page 1 lead.

That is not the story. The story, Unspun would think, is buried in the 12th paragraph: why were there seven schools in Alor Regency in which not even a single student passed the exam? Can some real grown-up journalists please direct the copywriters in the weekends?

clipped from
Tears of joy, sadness greet exam results
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Kupang

Tears of joy and sadness greeted Saturday’s announcement of final examination results for junior high school students across the country.

Those who could not hide their excitement took to the streets on motorcycles, while others sprayed colorful paint on each other’s uniforms.

“We’re doing this to show our excitement after finally passing the national examination test,” student Putu Wira of SMP Dharma Praja in Denpasar, Bali, told Antara.

At another high school in Denpasar, SMP Dwijendra students clad in traditional Balinese costumes gathered en masse to pray for good results.

  blog it

Republic of delusions

Information and Communications Minister Sofyan Djalil has a sensitivity beyond the ken of most politicians and a sensibility beyond the belief of most right thinking persons.

His latest effort as guardian of what the nation should or should not be told is to try to pull the plug over  a TV show satirizing politicians called Republic of Dreams (Republik Mimpi) . His reason: the show promotes “negative political education” to the people.

If negative political education is what he is up against then he would do well instead to moderate the words and behavior of Ministers (e.g. Aburizal “the-flood-victims-are-still-laughing”) and politicians (e.g. Yahya I-have-small-assets-that-are-videoed-by-a-dangdut-singer Zaini).

The Republik guys are not taking it laying down though. Effendi Gazali, the brains behind the show that is aired over Metro TV  told The Jakarta Post: “So what’s the fuss? Why doesn’t the Minister take care of television shows that promote violence and the supernatural, which are true purveyors of bad taste?”

Effendi has a point, Sofyan Djalil should cultivate a thicker skin or get out of politics.

Nothing so gratifying…

…as when your efforts are being appreciated.

The gang at Maverick, the PR consultancy where Unspun works has for the past two year been putting their money where their mouths are in the field of Corporate Social Leadership.

Hang on, you say, shouldn’t it be Corporate Social Responsibility? Well, since the guys at Maverick are mavericks, they believe in questioning conventional wisdom. Doing that they hold that the “responsibility” in CSR is a bit of a bother since “responsibility” implies something you’re obliged to do, whether you believe in it or not. Many companies do not believe in their own CSR efforts so they often come across as hokey, even though they pile tons of money into it. Some mining companies come to mind.

Corporate Social Leadership, however, is different (credit to . It is using the assets you have as a company – such as your expertise, customer insight, ability to make decisions faster than government or civil society, money, location etc – to affect positive change in society. In Maverick, the guys have decided that their CSL program will be all about using the skills and knowledge of PR consultants to empower NGOs with media handling skills, i.e. how to talk to the media so that it is concise, short and memorable, what to say, what not to say etc etc.

They’ve been at it for two years and apart from adopting Mitra Netra last year, and Kelola for the Arts and Center for Better Education, for a 10-month course on how to do their own PR, have been media training about 15 other NGOs.

Today was very gratifying as one of the participants was so taken up with the training yesterday, he decided to show his appreciation by blogging about it in his organization’s blog Solidaritas Kebersamaan. Now if the Mavericks can only convince Corporate Indonesia to abandon their silly CSR initiatives and move into CSL instead…

The enigmatic National Disaster Management Board

Given the track record of how this government handles, some would say mishandles,  information during disasters and crises (such as the missing Adam Air Flight KI 574) the question that must be asked is:

Just what actually does the National Disaster Management Board do?

 The last time Unspun spoke to anyone senior on the board was just after the Government mishandled the communications in the aftermath of the Aceh Tsunami. It was at a panel discussion organized by the business magazine SWA and Unspun‘s alter ego was invited to provide some input about crisis management practices.

What emerged during the discussion was an expose of what a joke the board was. Some of the officials would only speak off record and the picture that emerged is that the board is severely underfunded to do the correct things. Education to children of what to do on receiving an earthquake warning, for instance, received some silly amount like Rp 500 million per year. And that is for a national awareness program.

It was a long time ago (in 2005) so Unspun does not remember the details but impressions carved indelibly into Unspun’s mind were that:

  • The board was politicised so decision making is a joke
  • There has been no drill on what to do during an emergency
  • Officials then were more interested in the projects coming up in Aceh rather than how to handle the immediate problems

Unspun is sure that things have improved at the board since then, although the board is still headed by the same person – Vice President Jusuf Kalla. Kalla is now facing the heat for the board’s perceived inadequacies in helping the relatives of the passengers of the missing Flight KI 574.

But really, what does the National Disaster Emergency Board do? Are they supposed to move in during aviation incidents? maritime incidents such as ferry sinkings? If so what is their mandate? What are they doing about KI 574 and the ferry victims and their families? Are they involved in coordinating the communications in such incidents? if so why the botch up?

Getting these questions answered will help get Indonesia to a higher level of competence in handling disasters and crisis-like situations. Not answering them will help ensure that Indonesia remains in a state of low capacity in handling such incidents.

So where are all the brave, fearless and smart journalists who work to get the information out so that we can all have a better society? The fact that Indonesia has such poor emergency and disaster handling capabilities is one thing that you can do something about?

Yet the mainstream media has so far failed to expose the weaknesses in a system that has caused unnecessary anguish to relatives of KI 574. It is time that the Tempos and Kompasses get off their high horse and do some honest investigative reporting.

Or must us in the blogosphere do your job for you?

Brain teasers for IndoUSAcouples readers

I’ve noticed a lot of interest about the International Physics Olympiad from the Indousacouples website. presumably they are mixing all those DNA between Indonesians and Americans to produce future brainiacs. Information that may help them along is contained in today’s Koran Tempo where Prof. Yohanes Surya discusses the questions posed at the Olympiad in Singapore recently. I think you need to subscribe to the web service to read it though. Good luck! I have a headache just looking at the questions.

The brain behind the brains

Indonesia has just won four golds and one silver at the 37th International Physics Olympiad in Singapore. One of the students was also the Absolute Winner at the Olympiad. In short Indonesia has the best young minds in physics in the world.

Prof. Yahanes SuryaThe man behind this feat of intellectual conquest is Prof. Johannes Surya, a bespectacled, unassuming character who’s been helping to catapault Indonesia to the top of intellectual contests.

I caught up with the Prof at a lunch hosted by the Moodys today at Four Seasons Apartment, to welcome back the Olympiad team and to say thank you to the team for doing Indonesia proud.

What he had to say is both intriguing, inspirational and sad at the same time. There are, apparently as many as 15 million young Indonesians with IQs of 150 and above. For some reason most of these students are not from Jakarta. In the past the Prof has found them in Maluku, Papua and Central Jawa.

Once he finds them he gets them to Jakarta and trains them. The training program is, literally, Olympian. Together with an ex Olympiad participant, Andhika, who’s had the rare (more…)