The Denials


I believe I have ranted a lot about the education system in Indonesia. However, just few days ago I have got the corroborating argument about the poor quality of education system in this country. The article which controversially titled “Indonesian Kids Don’t Know How Stupid They Are“, is a harsh wake up call which should be taken very seriously. It has shown how poor the quality of the education system in Indonesia.

Some of the comments in the article has mirrored what I have been feeling about the curriculum in this country. Not only the concerns from parents whose children would be affected the most by this poor academic scheme, but also from the scholars that worry about the future of the next generations. However some others were very much disagree with this article.

Most of them doubted the method that was used to collect the data, some refused to be compared to our two closest neighbour – Malaysia and Singapore, and the other were simply disagreeing without providing any valid arguments.

Those who questioned the data collecting method said that the survey tool was not applicable in Indonesia. The questions in the test which was given was said to be in English instead of in Indonesian, while there are many Indonesian students who don’t understand English. That has been countered by the author that the test has been adapted. They also said that the sample of the data was not valid as it was taken only from the eastern part of Indonesia. They believed that if it was taken in Jakarta or other big cities, it would give a completely different result.

Of course the article itself has made me sad. But what sadden me even more was the fact that most of Indonesian people doesn’t understand the urgency of this matter. In fact, I think these people are in a deep denial, trying to believe that things are no so bad, and it is only some paranoid people trying to infiltrate our academic system with the western influence.

1. I don’t understand why shouldn’t we compare our country with our two closest neighbours, Singapore and Malaysia? Because we are larger and we have more problem to solve? I agreed with one question from another commentators in the article: even if Indonesia is divided into 100 small independent countries with their own education system, it probably wouldn’t work either.

I don’t understand why shouldn’t we compare ourselves to the better countries? Why should we compare ourselves to the worse country? To make ourselves feel better? To make ourselves feel superior? To keep ourselves in a comfort zone and thinking that it is good enough that we are not the worst of all? That is sad.

Comparing ourselves to the better countries doesn’t mean that we were feeling inferior. It is to inspire us, to aspire us, to whip us to work more, to be better, to go forward. It is supposed to encourage us to be better.

2. If the test was taken in big cities in Java, would it give us a better result? Oh wait… Do you remember the National Exam? Yes, the so called national exam which passing grade was so low that I did it half asleep?

No, I am not trying to brag. If you thought so, then you have completely missed my point.

For my siblings and I, doing the National Exam is way easier than doing the yearly test in our school. It is easier to pass the exam than to pass the pop quiz from our teacher. It is because we were schooled in the best private schools. However for some other students form different school, even from the same city, they would think the passing grade is a life-death experience.

I disagree if anyone would say that students from the big cities are smarter. I could beat those students when I was in the university, and I did it easily. The discrepancy is not in the region where the school was established, but is in the difference between the quality of teachings in the school. And I should say that the private schools are still the best in this country.

It is sad that people are so defensive and so in denial. They wouldn’t understand how far behind we are now compared to students from other country. They blamed everything but refused to admit that we are now walking backwards. Especially those who are living in the big city, trying to justify while looking this matter rosily.

“Ignorance is a bliss”, they said. No wonder that Indonesian students are one of the happiest in the world.


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