11/26/2016, 10.13
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Jakarta stops national school exams: it costs too much and everyone copies

by Mathias Hariyadi

Middle and high school students spend months preparing for the Ujian Nasional. Too many cases of corruption and the disparity between the level of candidates from region to region.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – As of 2017, Indonesian students will not have to take the at the end of year national examination, announced Education Minister, Muhadjir Effendy, yesterday.  He explained: "It was a government decision and there is already a moratorium that will prevent the examination as of next year." The Ujian Nasional (A), as defined, is the higher level examination and students take months preparing for it.

The news is a shock to the whole school community in the country, accustomed to having to face a much sterner test in order to continue their studies.

One of the reasons for the government choice, supported by President Joko Widodo, is economic. The test preparation, submission of documents and material to all schools throughout the huge Indonesian archipelago, has become a too costly for Jakarta pockets.

Another serious problem is the leaking of the exam topics days in advance, that is repeated every year and that funds a black market of tests responses sold to less prepared students. This rampant corruption in Indonesian bureaucracy has made it an increasingly serious problem.

A third issue is the large disparities between the levels of preparation of students. From one province to another, the quality varies greatly. The Jakarta students, for example, are used to a higher level and the use of computers, while students of East Nusa Tenggara, where electricity comes in fits and starts, are less prepared.

If the level ever became homogeneous, promised the minister, the test could be reintroduced. Until then  progress will be monitored by provincial offices: "For high school, decisions will be taken at the provincial level, while for the elementary and middle schools the regional office will monitor tests".

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