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Jokowi defends English-free primary school curriculum JAKARTA - The Jakarta administration has backed the Education Ministry’s controversial new curriculum that scraps English classes, computer studies and physical education as mandatory courses in primary schools.

Governor Joko Widodo said on Wednesday that it was important for primary schools to focus more on the Indonesian language to help nurture students’ sense of nationalism. “I support the plan. It’s better to offer the English classes at the junior and senior high school level,” he said.

Under the new curriculum, which went into effect for a limited number of schools for the 2013-2014 academic year that began in May, the three subjects are no longer part of the required stream for primary school students, but are still available as extracurricular activities.

English classes are being phased out gradually. This year, they have been scrapped for students in grades one to three; in the 2014-2015 school year they will be phased out for students in the fourth grade; and in the 2015-2016 school year they will no longer be on the curriculum for students in grades five and six.

Joko said students should be taught from an early age to appreciate Indonesian language and culture. “I agree that the Indonesian language should be prioritized. English should be offered when [students enter] junior high school,” he said. “But I think that for elementary school, it’s better [to offer] Indonesian language and local educational content.”

The new curriculum has drawn widespread criticism from teachers, parents’ groups and education observers, who warn that it risks churning out a generation of young people less capable than previous generations of competing on the global level.

The new curriculum’s shift toward “softer” subjects like Islamic studies, civics and culture, at the expense of English, computers and science in some schools, has been the critics’ focal point, although the Education Ministry counters that the number of subjects that primary school students were learning needed to be distilled down and given a more local spin.

The ministry also says the subjects have not been scrapped completely, and that students who wish to study them can still do so after school hours. Education authorities in several regions have refused to implement the new curriculum, with fewer than 6,400 out of more than 148,000 primary schools nationwide adopting the new syllabus.


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Posted in General @ 14 December 2013 02:52 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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