In today’s globalization era, competitiveness takes many forms in our daily routine, particularly in career and educational fields. As the job market narrows, education becomes expensive. Moreover, the role of English, as an international language, is becoming more significant in developing countries like Indonesia.
Many parents have concerns for their children’s future and have put high expectations on academic progress. International curriculum schools are getting more popular of late and becoming a trend among wealthier families, as they are outcome based.
In spite of the fact that the Jakarta International School, the Gandhi International School and
the British International School have become pioneers in terms of international schools, many schools have adapted international curricula combined with the national standard curricula.
These so-called “National Plus” schools use English as the language instruction, and many are affiliated with renowned universities from English-speaking countries such as Singapore, Britain, Australia and the United States.
Other than having the advantage of honing English skills, international and National Plus schools offer less classes and more extracurricular activities, compared to state schools. Ranging from five to nine classes a day, these classes are designed specifically to fulfill the needs of students. With an average of around twenty students per class, the teacher can be attentive to each student’s needs.
Among these schools, the implementation of the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs has become a value-added factor in determining the quality of the school. The British International School is one of the schools that have implemented the IB program. In addition, reputable schools, as well as colleges and universities worldwide, recognize the International Baccalaureate Organization programs. These include the Primary Years Program (PYP), the Middle Years Program (MYP) and the Diploma Program.
The Primary Years Program (PYP) provides the curriculum from Kindergarten to grade 6. In addition to requirements like English, Math, Arts, Social Studies, Science and Physical Education, the program focuses on developing the child’s thinking and creativity.
Through a variety of choices of extracurricular programs such as sports, music, religion, science and technology, languages, cultural activities, arts and crafts, the student can develop his or her talent as well as build character.
The thinking and creative skills aspects, in addition to character building are expected to instill students with the ability to think critically and independently as well as to be determined to work collaboratively with others during the Middle Years Program (MYP).
Because educators realize that peer pressure plays an important role in this age group, students in the Middle Years Program are encouraged to be socially and culturally aware in positioning themselves among others. This is the time where students start contemplating what they learn related to the real world and global issues. During this 4-year program, problem-solving is essential, and students are taught to analyze information, develop ideas and work independently and collaboratively.
As students gradually acknowledge themselves, they develop the awareness of being independent in respect to both the national and international community. The intercultural understanding stimulates more critical thinking and skills pertaining to a global community.
During Years 11 and 12, students are prepared for university entrance. This Diploma Program offers the least classes compared with the other two preceding programs, usually five or six classes ranging from languages, humanities and economics to business, math and science. These classes are designed according to the students’ needs prior to university entrance. For example, a student desiring to continue his or her study at a university with a business major is recommended to take economics, business and math classes during his or her diploma years.
During the Diploma Program, students need to participate in 150 hours of philanthropic activities, as required by the International Baccalaureate Organization. These activities include visiting orphanages, distributing clothes and food as well as teaching English to poor people.
Sekolah Binus (Bina Nusantara) was established in 1998 and participates not only in IB programs, but also in the ISO 9001 program. “The school currently uses the Western Australia Certificate of Education and is constantly looking forward to improving our quality”, said Gregory C. Mowday, Binus’ Middle and High School Principal.
With more than 500 graduates furthering their education in 18 different countries, Binus has been providing counseling to deal with emotional development, social development and academic development. In addition, counseling on career choices is aimed at both Year 11 and Year 12. “The long-term counseling program provides information and counseling to those who have already graduated from Binus, and some of them come back to share their expertise and experience with current students,” added Gregory.
Sekolah Tunas Muda uses the International Baccalaureate Program through its motto “Nurturing Growth Together”. The school’s mission and vision emphasize its students to build their characters through fulfilling student profile in terms of being positive, active, determined, inquisitive, communicative, purposeful, principled, respectful, responsible and knowledgeable.
“As a bilingual school, we have been building a strong reading habit within the school’s system. We emphasize our students to love reading by providing good comprehensive reading library due to the fact that through reading students can develop their writing skills,” stated Nigel Robson, Tunas Muda’s Director of Studies.
Having benefited from the American standard curriculum, students from Sekolah Pelita Harapan (SPH) benefit from a combined National Plus and international program. In addition to the core curriculum, students have to take religion classes based on their beliefs. Religions reflect the national culture and play an important role toward character building. “Even though our school is based on (Protestant) beliefs, we are responsive to other religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Catholicism and Hinduism. Moreover, the school facilitates these religious beliefs in the curriculum for those who practice”, said Yusa, an SPH Year 11 student who is currently taking the IB Diploma Program.
Many parents prefer to send their children to National Plus schools, not only to hone English skills, but also so they can receive a comprehensive education with a full understanding of the materials, which are less memory-driven and more focused on the subject than state schools. “The students only learn the essential principles of the subject, which focuses on problem-solving rather than merely rote memorization. It is more relaxed, but has more advantages for the child’s future”, said Cindy, who has both of her children in Sekolah Tunas Muda.
On the other hand, Ira, whose daughter attends the Gandhi International School, thinks that many state school’s curriculum, even though they use Bahasa Indonesia as the language instruction, have better quality than international and National Plus schools. However, the state school’s curriculum is too monotonous and can lead children to boredom. “To me, the child’s enjoyment is very important in the learning process. At Gandhi, my daughter has been enjoying the interactive learning curriculum of the school. The more the child enjoys, the more he or she can absorb the knowledge”, added Ira.
By Aulia Rachmat, published in The Jakarta Post, January 26, 2006.