Primary and Secondary (Exam) Focus

The primary focus of Jakartass has always been on Indonesia, a country I now call home. I may occasionally wax nostalgic or even lyrical about my past life elsewhere, the experiences, events and interests which offer a mirror to who I am now.

I remain both curious and concerned which is why I offer these reflections (mirror – reflections … geddit?).

Living here means that I have little right to criticise conditions elsewhere, although parallels offer a balance to these observations.

This preamble is intended to hopefully limit comments in the form of diatribes about the political (and religious) causes of educational standards elsewhere.

I am raising the issue of the ujian monyet again because I am very concerned about the competence of the bureaucrats in charge of Indonesia’s schools, a system to which I subscribe as a paying parent – Our Kid attends a private school which is ecumenical, not beholden to Islam, Christianity or any other creed. However, it is beholden to the national curriculum and its graduating students have to sit the national exams.

Last time, I highlighted the English practice test set for Jakarta’s grade 9’s and sat on January 27th. They sat another practice test last Tuesday, 23rd February. Thankfully, it had far fewer than the 63 mistakes that the previous one had. This one still had typos and grammatical errors in the reading passages and vocabulary questions – which are the sole English langauge skills tested. There are a couple of ambiguous questions, but what leads me to question the competence of the powers-that-be in City Hall is the following question from a passage about a health supplement.

Q.44. “Moreover, such combination can alleviate colic of …”
——-What does the underlined word mean?
———a. reduce
———b. increase
———c. recover
———d. suffer

The correct answer is, of course, a.

The official marking key, which all schools should use, states c !

Go figure.

Which nicely leads into a cockup in the practice Geometry test also sat this week.

Bear in mind that in Maths tests students are only allowed to use a 2B pencil. Although scrap paper is supplied for making notes and to do calculations, the use of electronic calculators and protractors is strictly forbidden.

Q.32 Look at this parallelogram

—–Besar angle adalah
—–(Calculate the angle larger than C)

—–a. 42°———————-c. 62°

—–b. 47°———————-d. 65°

I’m numerically challenged, but even I recognise that without a protractor this task is impossible.

When I wrote about Multiple Intelligences (since highlighted in a Jakarta Post article about its relevance to business practices), I somewhat cynically suggested that it would not be too difficult to select which one is foremost among bureaucrats.

Now I’m not sure that they have any intelligence.

6 Responses to “Primary and Secondary (Exam) Focus”

  1. drbruce says:

    Yeah, my eldest daughter is getting ready for Grade12 exams. I took a look at the English exam and as usual ended up with my usual national exam rant. Interestingly enough (well to me anyway), I was teaching in a national plus school not too long ago and was arguing about the national exams with one of the teachers who finally said in exasperation, "You just don't get it because you're a foreigner. If our students don't take these exams, they won't learn anything because they're lazy and don't want to study." When I suggested that he might enjoy the exams because he has a whole term of doing very little while the kids waste their time practicing for the exams, he just gave me the same look again. Obviously I just don't get it.

  2. anong says:

    The pity I suspect is, that the higher the educational level, the more monumental are the errors. Not being an English teacher, yet I would be more concerned about errors in other subjects – they do do other subjects right?

  3. Jakartass says:

    Yes, they do, Anong.

    That's why I included the Maths question.

  4. Reveller says:

    When Shakespeare wrote "bring me to the test, and I the matter will re-word" he must have had the Indonesian school examinations in mind.

  5. Jakartass says:

    Einstein couldn't read until he was seven, so he wouldn't have 'graduated from grade 6. I suspect Shakespeare would have 'failed' ujian nasional too.

  6. Ally says:

    what would be the matter if one does not go to school, since it seems everybody in Indonesia lives for just a matter of food, house, and fashion. or "sekedar menyambung nyawa"??? wtf??? and what is the matter of having children???

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