The Indonesian education systems has a very similar structure to the US system. There are elementary schools serving grades K-6, Jr. Highs serving grades 7 & 8, and high schools that serve the upper grades.
Some schools serve grades K-12 just like the the United States. Moreover, Indonesia has a mix of public and private schools, though religious schools (primarily Islamic schools) can be private or funded by the government.
(Above) Students complete salat sunnah (optional prayer) at an Islamic elementary school. Unlike the US, religious schools may be supported by the government.
School size also varies just like it does in the United States. School size can range from a few hundred to a few thousand students. Unlike most of Illinois (excluding Chicago), students do not go to school in the neighborhood or district where they live. Rather, they must take competitive entrance exams in order to enter higher achieving or more prestigious schools. High achieving schools generally have high achieving teachers as teachers too must take national certification tests to complete university. If a teacher performs poorly on a test, they may be required to teach in a remote part of the archipelago. Only recently has Indonesia required teachers to complete a university degree.
In the recent past (and still for some element-ary schools), teachers only had to complete senior high (high school). This has changed in recent years as Indonesia has pledged to allocate 20% of its GDP to Education.
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During the past two days (June 10th and June 11th) I had the opportunity to visit several schools. Our Jakarta host--the wonderful Sir Charles--has allowed me to observe his school
which is privateand K-12. His is a very progressive school with a high achieving student body. I also observed a public Islamic elementary school, and a state-run Middle school.
Although there are of course many differences (the class sizes are generally larger, the schools are centered around an open courtyard, and cats roam freely), the big ephiphany is the great similarity between the students, staff, classroom style, and overall feel of Indonesian schools. To be in an Indonesian high school classroom, is to experience in another context much of what I
experience every day as a teacher at Naperville Central. The class begins with chat- ing and a bit of commotion, then quickly settles down as the teacher begins. There is light teacher humor. There is the funny kid who pushes the envelop a bit too much until he's redirected. There are those who participate and those who choose to observe or take in. There is a level of jibing and sar- casm that would live well in an most American classrooms. There is kindness and a sometimes a bit of teasing.
What occurs in class would also be readily observable in an American classroom. An Indonesian Language class ("Bahasa Indonesian") I observed began with a discussion of poems called Pantuns. The Pantun is a four-line poem that must have exactly 17 words. Lines 1 and 3 must end in the same sound as must lines 2 and 4. Miss Tika (like in daycare, the teacher is known by the first name with a Mr. or Mrs.) the teacher, ("guru" in Indonesia) then gives several examples of a pantuns from Sumatra--one for advice, one for love etc. She checks for understanding, and then asks students to produce their own Pantuns in pairs. Students about writing their poems for about 20 minutes and then begin to share. Exactly like
(Above) Students peruse, NCHS yearbook and are loving it!)
the US, the products meet the task, taking full advantage of the opportunity for humor, especially when dealing with love.
As the poems are read, students laugh along with students, making sure they get the concept and giving some advice and correction here and there.
Closing the class means, giving a bit of character advice--perhaps to work hard, to study, or to pray (more about religion in school later). Open the class is often the same, though teachers generally greet each student directly. Most typically, students will take the teacher's hand, and then bow down such as their forehead touches the hand. As in other countries, this is a submissive or respectul act as the touching another's head is tapu (Taboo in English, borrowed from polynesia).
Fellow teachers hang out in the Indonesian version of Mr. Wiesbrook's office (called "Mr. Bill" or "Father Bill" in Indonesia).