Indonesia’s education system is undergoing a significant transition under the new government, and it looks like the country’s tech scene is about to benefit. Last year, under former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the previous administration hastily implemented a new curriculum for schools nationwide for the 2014/2015 term that removed IT classes.
But this week, Indonesia’s new education and culture minister, Anies Baswedan, issued instructions for all schools to stop adhering to the current curriculum and go back to using the 2006 version instead. This means that when the next semester begins, Indonesian students will be able to study information technology once again.
Under the revamped 2013 curriculum, students are encouraged to utilize technology by learning in an “IT environment,” as stated by the education ministry. This means students are encouraged to use computers for online research related to classroom assignments.
However, special tech subjects like coding and programming are still excluded from the main curriculum, though they may be taught as extra classes for those with an interest. Learning how to surf the web and conduct online research for math lessons might have some uses, but it’s probably not going to foster the next generation of tech entrepreneurs.
Moreover, not all schools in Indonesia have a great “IT environment.” Many schools in rural areas still lack basic computing infrastructure and resources, which techies in Jakarta now take for granted. As for teachers, not many of them in Indonesia are even qualified to educate students about IT.
The old 2006 curriculum is not perfect either. Although it teaches students special skills like how to use Photoshop and Flash, some parts of it may not be as relevant as they were in 2006 – instructions on how to turn on a computer, for example. Currently, some of the better schools in the archipelago will be able to adapt to the current state of technology in Indonesia, while others will inevitably stick closely to the outdated practices of nearly a decade ago, before the iPhone even came along.
In contrast, neighboring Singapore is starting to teach programming languages to elementary students.
The majority of schools in the nation will use the revamped curriculum starting next semester, but around 6,200 schools will continue running the 2013 curriculum as a test. The Indonesian Teachers Federation Union hopes the new minister stops the 2013 curriculum entirely – or at least limits the testing of the non-IT curriculum to just a few hundred schools.