Artikel ini merupakan satu dari 6 artikel terbaik “Dare To Dream, Care To Share” edisi Mei 2015 (Mendidik Anak Bangsa). Artikel ini ditulis oleh Maya Puspitasari, mahasiswa PhD di School of Education, University of Glasgow.
Hi, my name is Maya Puspitasari. I have been an English teacher for almost ten years at the moment. Believe me; it is hard to be a teacher in Indonesia especially if you are a pre-service teacher. There is a big gap between pre and in-service teachers in the country. Until now, I’m not sure if the examination for the teachers to be entitled in-service is an appropriate measurement. I don’t think those who passed the exam can be considered to be more qualified than those who didn’t. The exam doesn’t guarantee that those whose score is high are the better teachers than those who gain low score in the exam. What is the quality measurement standard that the government proposed? Even in some areas there are people who gave money to ‘buy’ the in-service position.
A lot of teachers who have taught up to twenty years have not got the opportunity to be in that ‘safe’ area. Yes, I call it as a safe area since it is a prestigious status to be in-service teacher. You will no longer be in a threatening position when you become an in-service teacher. At least you will have fixed income monthly. Then your status will remain the same. You will not be afraid of being fired by your superior even if you make mistakes. It will be so hard for the government to discharge the status attached on you. Yes, that’s true. For some administrational reasons, even if there is an in-service teacher who loses his title of being in-service teacher, there is a long way process to make it happened. It takes time to do it. There is a long procedure that probably most government officials who propose the title discharge prefer not to choose. They will suggest a minimum penalty by sending the teacher to a different school for example.
Being a pre-service teacher means you need to teach more hours and sometimes in different schools or in different subjects since your salary depends on the hours you teach every week. If you were absent due to sickness issue or something else, you would have no right to be paid for that absenteeism. Then if there is teacher training or educational policy introduction held by the central or local government, you are the one who will be asked to attend. Being a pre-service teacher means you are under the control of in-service teachers. At least that is what has been expressed by some teachers in Indonesia.
The condition is getting worse if you are a pre-service teacher who teaches in a low-qualified private school. Your position is at a stake. You have been pressurized by different elements; parents, school principal and students. The parents who have spent money to pay the tuition will obviously be eager to have their children educated well. A lot of parents still believe that the score gained by the students in a national examination is interconnected to the quality of the school. The higher score that the students gain, the higher rank of quality that the school have. At least that what some schools promote in their brochures and banners during the school registration term.
Since the income of the private schools comes mostly from the parents whose children study at the schools, then the school principals will compel the teachers to do their best regarding to the national exam. No matter what. Teachers can do everything including doing cheating act to make it happened. If there is a student who failed in the exam, most parents will decide not to enrol their children in that school. They will choose another school that has better ‘quality’ particularly if the parents have will to spend more money. If the parents have less interest to enrol their children in that school, then there is a possibility the teachers will lose their job since the school could not afford to pay their salary. The students who want to continue their study to a higher level will also demand the teachers to lead them to graduate from the schools by gaining good marks. The students who study in the private schools especially those with low quality are less competence than the students at the public or high qualified private schools. The students who have gained higher score in the exam will certainly prefer to study in public schools or schools that have better facilities. Is it a balanced competition if you compare the students between private and public schools? Of course, the students in public schools will have more opportunities to gain skills than those in private schools with less facilities.
In the end, the teachers are under pressure. This situation leads them to choose being accountable based on the stakeholders’ expectation than to teach in accordance to their professional accountability. Nowadays, it has tendency that the teachers teach to the test rather teach to the material or teach to the students. If the exam is a good test, it is not a matter to concern since it may create positive washback in the classroom.
However, some may believe that the national examination has no relation with the teaching objectives, so they focus on discussing the past test papers with the students before the examination schedule started. Their target has moved from teaching to achieve objectives of curriculum to a direction of preparing to the test. They are afraid if the students will fail in the exam if they still hold the materials based on the curriculum without conveying some hints to do the exam. The score in the exam has become their priority to think about. Eventually, many teachers are trapped in the examination cycle by ignoring their professional development.
Regarding to this examination situation, I think the in-service teachers have share the same issue. At some points, they also tend to create an examination preparation cycle in the classrooms. Their teaching practice represents a school-leaving examination oriented. The teaching activities indeed no longer contribute to the education improvement. It remains problematic then. In one hand, the government has administered the national examination to give positive washback effect to the classroom practice. But in the other hand, the teachers imply that the exam is not integral to the learning and teaching process as it is supposed to be.
I’m not trying to exaggerate, but allow me to identify the pre and in-service teachers as the plebeians and aristocrats. This is where I need to highlight why I call the in-service teacher as an aristocrat. In-service teachers have less burden than the pre-service teachers at least it will be hard for them to lose their job if something goes wrong during their teaching career. They have monthly income and some additional benefits including health insurance for their family members. The income they earn is increased once a year. Then, they can propose to have higher level of their profession based on their teaching experiences or degree they achieved. They have more time to spend with their families since the teaching requirement is 24 teaching hours a week. If they want, they might work in different schools to earn more money.
Furthermore, both teachers (pre and in-service) are likely to employ the conventional method while they are teaching. A new policy and curriculum offered, does not mean that the teachers will apply new innovation in teaching. The teaching learning process is more directed to teacher-centred. Frankly speaking, some people in Indonesia still hold a belief that the teacher is ‘God’. The teachers could not be blamed. Every word coming from their mouth is not debatable. The students can’t say what is wrong or right to the teachers, otherwise they will be ended up as a rebellion.
However, in my opinion the teachers’ concern is not to impose their belief to the students and make it as a doctrine. They play an important role in scaffolding the students to gain some knowledge and lead them to expand the ideas and apply them in their own life. A good teacher does not mean a smart person only. But the education system requires a smart teacher with compassionate manner. A good teacher will reflect his/her knowledge to a classroom practice by introducing it to the students then let the students write their own way to absorb the knowledge. Then, a qualified professional development is required by teachers in Indonesia. Improving teachers’ professional development will lead to educational quality improvement. It is time for the new government to respond this call. I am a teacher and at some point, I’m proud having this profession.