The latest update, published on October 23 in the local newspaper, Kompas, is that the government will remove natural sciences as a subject and merge it with other subjects such as the Indonesian language.
The main reason for this change is to respond to “some public opinion” about the existing science curriculum that seems “too hard” for elementary students.
Yohanes Surya, a well-known science educator in Indonesia, told Asian Scientist Magazine that the plan to merge Indonesian and natural science classes is only possible for the third grade and lower. For classes above the third grade, it would be a very challenging task.
“In the lower grade classes, it is possible to integrate a very basic science concept into Indonesian language class. But for the higher classes, how could we integrate the concept of electricity in Indonesian language or religion class? It’s so weird,” said Surya.
Surya further explained that the science curriculum was not necessarily “too hard,” but rather, it was the teaching style and methodology that caused students to dislike the subject.
“Science should be fun. In Indonesia, most teachers teach science in non-interactive way. No wonder the students find it boring. Therefore the solution is the government should improve the quality of science teachers and make interesting science handbooks,” he said.
Prof. Rhenald Kasali, an educational observer from the University of Indonesia, had the same perspective as Surya.
“The big problem of education in Indonesia is the teaching methodology. It is much more important than changing the curriculum. Science and math as a subject should not be deleted. It should be taught through creative teaching,” Prof. Rhenald told Asian Scientist Magazine.
Prof. Rhenald also added that when students learn science, they should learn it in a laboratory, not in a classroom.
“Many schools in Indonesia are lacking in science facilities and this is also a big problem,” he added.
With regard to this issue, Dian Fitroti Ulinnuha, an elementary school science teacher in Bogor Indonesia, expressed the same view as the experts.
In her experience, teaching science is fun and it all depends on the creativity of the teacher to make students like the subject. She also added that the government should consider improving the quality of science teachers and facilities.
“In many public schools, most science teachers are not creative enough to make science interesting for the students. There should be a well-managed certification of science teachers by the government,” she said.
Amid the ongoing protests, the Indonesian government is still finalizing the new curriculum and plans to implement it in the next academic year.