04/19/2013, 00.00
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Teachers and students in uproar against the Education Ministry over final exams

by Mathias Hariyadi
In many Indonesian provinces and districts, exams have not been delivered on time with the blame pinned on printers and distributors. Over time, exams have led to corruption and malfeasance, but they are key to access to the best schools.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Teachers and students are in uproar because the Indonesian Education Ministry has failed to deliver on time final high school examination and answer sheets. Several districts and provinces are considering the possibility of suspending the process, but the government appears unperturbed by the problem and the minister has dismissed calls for his resignation. The situation could get worse over the coming days because primary and middle school students are scheduled to take their exams and not all schools have received the necessary material.

For decades, Indonesian students have taken a final exam at the end of the year to evaluate their general level of education. Such evaluation is crucial to go to higher levels of school and eventually university, which almost guarantees future high-status employment.

This year, some provinces have been in an uproar when the Education Ministry failed to deliver exam material on time to thousands of locations, causing widespread anger.

Existing regulations require that exam material be printed in special centres, and kept in "safe" places before they are delivered to local education authorities, who then distribute them in schools.

Education Minister Muhammad Nuh has come in for criticism over the fiasco, with some people calling for his resignation.

Some schools resorted to protest, even rejecting to hold late exams, but the minister is unwilling to give in. After dismissing the problem and the growing dissatisfaction with a few jokes, he blamed instead those charged with printing and distributing the exam material.

For Indonesian students, the end-of-year exam is an important step in their career. Over the years, it has however become a source of corruption, nepotism and theft.

With many people willing to pay with money or other goods to buy the answer to exam questions, printers, security staff, carriers, teachers and supervisors, anyone involved in the exam process, could provide access to the questions, despite attempts to keep things above board.

In the recent past, students have also resorted to hiding phones and other electronic devices in their clothes and shoes in order to get the right answers.

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