Curriculum 2013 and Challenges of the Teachers Training

By: Afrianto Daud
(This article was frist written for the Jakarta Post)

The curriculum change initiative by the government still reap the pros and cons until today. Apart from questioning some philosophical ideas and basic concepts underlying the new curriculum, as voiced by the panel of professors of ITB in a public discussion on the curriculum recently (13/3/2013), those who are critical to the new curriculum also argue that the governement seems to impose the change and tends to rush. Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) and a number of parents who join in a Coalition to Refuse Curriculum 2013 has even submitted a petition to the headquarter of Kemendikbud. The petition was initially conducted online in December 5, 2012, and now has been signed by more than 1,500 people.

Yet, the government does not seem to change the master plan it has made. This can be seen from the statement of Prof M Nuh, Kemendikbud’s minister, saying that the Curriculum 2013 will go ahead as planned by July 2013. Nuh insisted that the rejection was not the thing to worry because all the preparations have been set up (Kompas, 3/16/2013). It seems that the socialization and the public hearing made by the government functions only as a 'lip service' within the curriculum change administrative procedures. Whatever feedbacks and public inputs it gets, the government already has a default plan, the curriculum will continue to be run as planned earlier.

A curriculum change within an education system in any country is actually a common thing, even a necessity. This is because the world inside and outside schools keeps changing, sometimes with a speed even faster than expected. So, the curriculum change is needed in the context of answering the challenges, problems and needs we are currently facing.

However, in Indonesia, recent curriculum changes often bring noise as the changes did not give enough time for each educational stakeholder to really understand the concept of change. Once again, a short test period of public hearing was more impressed only as a lip service by the government. In developed countries, like Australia, public testing of curriculum change can take up to four years. Even after the change takes place, there will be still an ongoing consultation. For us, the public test of a curriculum only takes place for a few months.

The absence of a comprehensive research-based evaluation of the implementation of the previous curricula is also among the reasons that make the resistance is getting stronger. The ongoing curriculum, 2004 KBK curriculum which was then refined by KTSP in 2006, is still realtively new. There may be even some teachers in a particular area who are still struggling to understand and apply the KTSP. However, today they are again shocked by the government's plan to re-change the curriculum.

Reading some of the basic philosophy and concepts within our previous curricula, then we will find that the theoretical concepts offered in the curricula are all good. Some of the ‘new’ important points proposed in the curriculum 2013 have actually also been mentioned in the preceding curricula. In other words, excluding the addition of learning hours and the dismissal of some subjects policies, the ‘new concepts’ of change offered by the government in Curriculum 2013 are not purely new.

The emphasis on thematic learning in the elementary level, for example, has also been named in the 2004 KBK curriculum; that at the level of elementary, classroom teachers should implement an integrated learning that uses themes to relate some subjects to provide meaningful experiences to students. The emphasis on the pocess assessment and portfolio, in addition to product assessment, is not a new issue either. The KBK curriculum with KTSP have also mentioned this concept. This is not to mention when it comes to emphasis on active learning methodologies. This concept has been very long touted, even since the 1984 curriculum with its very popular method - CBSA.

Therefore, what is more interesting to study and ponder now is why a lot of great concepts in our curricula did not work well in the field as as expected?

Answering these questions is certainly not a simple matter, because there are so many interrelated variables influencing the success of an educational process. The culture of a nation, support from parents and the community, the environment, policy in education and learning methodologies are among the factors. However, of all the variables, I think the teacher's competence and commitment are among the main factors that will determine the great concept in the curriculum can be successfully implemented in the field.

Yes, teachers. They are indeed the major players in our efforts to advance the national education. It is the teachers who are in the frontline dealing directly with the students in the real world. They will translate the nicely written concepts in the curriculum documents into a real action in the classroom. I think that everyone, including the government, is aware of this.
Therefore, if the government urges to implement this new curriculum by July 2013, it must seriously prepare these teachers in order to understand the concept of the curriculum and able to use it in the classroom. The bottom line is the government is obliged to conduct effective socialization and training series. This is not an easy task considering the size and the wide range of our national education with more than 2.9 million teachers scattered around 208,701 schools across the country.

The most serious challenge is to train primary school teachers to be ready to conduct the integrative thematic learning. Not just because of the majority of them are rarely touched by trainings, it is also because they have been ‘fossilised’ with the subject-based learning approach over many years. So imagine how challenging (not to say difficult) when teachers must incorporate all basic competencies of the various fields of study (Mathematics, Bahasa Indonesia, Civics, Sport and the Arts, and Religion) in one time meeting of creative learning.

The burden on the government to train these teachers will be heavier especially if it is associated with the demands of the curriculum that requires teachers to develop the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domain equally. We are not yet talking about Bloom's taxonomy details that emphasize the need for a teacher to gradually develop the learning process to focus on improving the ability of students from the lower to the level of ideal competence; from knowing, understading, to applying, analysing, syntesising, and evaluating.

Training teachers to skillfully deploy portfolio assessment is also another challenge. Not only because this kind of assessment requires a strong commitment and specific skills from teachers in implementing it, but also because the teachers are still 'haunted' and 'distracted' by other valuation models that are also considered important, such as the National Exam, which is by principles opposed to the model of portfolio and process assessment.

Above all, the hardest challenge is how to change the mindset of teachers before implementing the new curriculum. Training that focuses only on the artificial change, such as introducing the teachers to the new concepts or skills in the curriculum in 2013, would never make substantive changes in the field. All great changes always begin from changing the way of thinking. Therefore, a revolutionary training and socialization method involving great motivators, psychologists and professional pedagogue is necessary.

The question then is “can the government really prepare these teachers before the new curriculum is actually implemented (in some pilot schools) within this relatively short time?” The government needs to seriously address these concerns. We certainly do not want that the fantastic budget (Rp 2.49 billion) will evaporate in vain, if this great project is not well planned, and professionally executed.

* The writer is teaching at FKIP of Riau University, a PhD candidate in the School of Education, Monash University in Australia.

I teach (and learn) for the same reason I breathe. Jatuh cinta dengan kegiatan belajar dan mengajar, karena dua aktifitas inilah yang menjadikan peradaban terus tumbuh dan berkembang ^_^ I have been teaching in various institutions in Indonesia, ranging from primary school to university level. I am currently an associate professor in the English education department of Universitas Riau, Indonesia. My research interests are in the areas of (English) teacher training and education, English Language Teaching, and educational policy in the Indonesian context. I am happy to share my knowledge with all interested teachers worldwide. Feel free to contact me through my email as seen in my blog :-). Many thanks!

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1:33 PM delete

love the articel. hope you share more sir. :)

8:37 AM delete

Thanks mas Maulana