The Quest for Quality Teachers

We may all agree that only by investing heavily, smartly and consistently on education that this country will have a much better chance to prosper, and that people's prosperity shall be one of the main objectives of all country's leaders.

Quality education shall produce quality people who will, hopefully, have strong research capabilities for the advancement of science, technology and humanity in the improvements of sourcing, production or usage of energy, food, weapons, factory, trade, transportation, telecommunication, forestry, mining, health care, arts, and so forth. One of the most important factors in the pursuit of quality education is of course the availability of abundant quality teachers.

In 2005 we witnessed the issuance of Law No. 5 / 2005 on Teacher and Lecturer, and the ministry of education has created a program for the socialization and implementation of the law, such as what we can find in this ministry program policy presentation.

Going through the slides, we find out how huge the challenge for the government is and how long shall we wait until we can expect to get better quality education and how long some of our beloved teachers shall wait until they can live more decent lives.

Out of 1,673,992 teachers employed by government, a staggering 1,203,403 (72%) of them are not qualified or with no undergraduate degrees. Whilst I truly believe that some of them are good dedicated teachers, even better than those with proper qualifications, still there's a dire need to improve their level of educations. Many of them actually have strong motivation to continue their studies, only that most of them face classical funding problems.

The plan was that 40% of the teachers should have the proper minimum qualifications by 2009. However, if we follow the plan, it will take more than 20 years for all teachers to have the minimum qualifications. When I first thinking to write about this post, I was actually dreaming of how if all elementary teachers had graduate degrees, and even post graduate ones...

The plan also stated that 100% teachers should receive functional allowance, between Rp.200,000 - 300,000 per month, in 2007 onwards. In addition, 25% of the teachers should receive professional allowance with amount of Rp. 1,250,000 per month in 2009, which is a significant increase from a mere 5% in 2007. However, there should be a correlation between professional allowance with teachers' qualification, and hence the target shall actually be at 40%.

There are also allowance for teachers who live in remote areas amounting Rp.1,250,000 per month, and also budget for the improvements of education facilities, education support, housing and others.

In short, the plan to improve teachers qualifications and welfare is there. The question is whether they are at the right amount and whether we can shorten the time to achieve it.

Meanwhile the ministry of education has issued another ministry regulation No 18 - 2007 in order to improve the qualifications of teachers where teachers certification shall be done through competency test in the form of portfolio assessments.

The portfolio is physical documented proof that shows teachers' achievement and works during their service in certain period of time. Teachers are required to submit all documents related with their qualifications, experience, training and education.

To refresh our memory, there are 10 components of the portfolio that covers (1) academic qualifications, (2) training and education, (3) teaching experience, (4) planning and execution of learning, (5) assessment of superior and supervisor, (6) academic achievements, (7) profession developmental works, (8) participation in scientific forum, (9) experience in the field of social and education, and (10) relevant awards in education.

Whilst the concept is good on paper, there are many challenges in the implementation of the regulation, especially for teachers in remote areas where some of the components are much more difficult to collect compared to those living in big cities.
Hence, it requires adjustments and also facilitation so that all teachers will have equal opportunity to fulfill the requirements.

The improvements of teachers' welfare shall correlates with improvements in teachers' quality, and these require a lot of funding and strong political will from the president and lawmakers. The rest is in the ability and cleanliness of the people in the ministry of education on the execution and improvements of the programs.
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