Apparently, 42% of young Indonesians are good for nothing

It’s PISA time again, when the competence of Indonesian 15 year-olds in science, maths and reading is compared with that of kids in other countries. They continue to under-perform quite shockingly — over four in ten are functionally incompetent in all three areas. Other ASEAN neighbours, who can soon vie for jobs in the ASEAN Economic Community, are much better equipped.

Bad language is bad for Indonesian business

Indonesian bureaucrats are making it harder for Indonesians to learn good English. This handicaps Indonesian firms, as well as making them look foolish in international markets.

Another inflamatory headline: A nation of dunces?

Many people took offence at the title of my earlier post about Indonesia’s appalling performance in maths and science in the internationally standardised PISA test. Those who also read the article rightly pointed out that the headline, which called Indonesian students “stupid”, did not match the contents of the post, which was about the failure of Indonesia’s educational system to prepare children for the needs of a modern economy. I apologise for any offence caused, but am glad that the…

Indonesian kids don’t know how stupid they are

Every three years, Indonesia’s education system goes through the ritual humiliation of the PISA tests, comparing the performance of 15 year-olds in 65 countries in reading, maths and science. Indonesia has more teachers per student than most much richer countries, and an amendment to the constitution guarantees that 20 percent of the national budget is spent on education. And yet the 2012 PISA results, released this week, show that Indonesia ranked at the bottom of the heap in maths and science, and did only marginally better in reading….

What’s the score with Indonesian education?

The first thing any Indonesian asks a stray foreigner, before they even get to age, marital status or the product of one’s ovaries, is: “Dari mana?” Where are you from? And the first thing they say when I say “England” is: “Wah! Manchester United!” (Occasional variant: “Wah! David Beckham!”)…

Truant teachers make for stupid vandals

In theory, every child in Indonesia gets at least three years of English teaching in primary school, and several years more in middle and secondary school. So it’s initially surprising that the majority of Indonesian kids can manage nothing more than “Hello Mister!”, and the occasional “wossyonem?” Perhaps more surprising still that so many seem to aspire to English language graffiti….

Bouncing back

Having been very rude about the Indonesian educational system in an earlier post, I offer up this example of genius from a junior high school teacher in the small town of Singkil, in Aceh province. It was his labour-saving solution to the fact that his baby cried unless it was being rocked constantly. I might note that this scene was filmed on a school day. The genius teacher was watching TV at home. “It’s raining,” he explained. “And anyway, they’ve…

A sick system produces dumb doctors in Indonesia

“Why don’t you go to Penang/Singapore?” is the first thing most Indonesians say when they hear I don’t have kids. Obviously childlessness must be fixed, and obviously it is far too important to be left to the Indonesian health system. I usually give people short shrift when they trash the health system here. I have several smart friends who were once great doctors. Ok, they’ve mostly shifted into management jobs now, but Indonesia’s med schools are full of bright young…