A group of educators, experts and parents have delivered a petition with more than 1,500 signatures to the Education Ministry, rejecting Indonesia’s new school curriculum which will see science and social studies dropped as core subjects in July.
“[The new curriculum] will not answer the country’s education problems,” said Siti Juliantari Rachman, a researcher at Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), on Friday. “This petition is a symbol of our rejection and was signed by more than 1,500 people who are against the implementation of the new curriculum.”
The ICW, parents, teachers and practitioners started the petition on Dec. 5 after they failed to reach an agreement with ministry officials following a series of talks.
The Education Ministry has argued that the current primary school curriculum is putting too much strain on students, and that it is looking to limit subjects taught in elementary schools to just six, eliminating science, social studies and making English language classes an elective subject.
The new curriculum would contain religion, nationalism, Indonesian language, math, arts and sports.
But despite its argument that the new curriculum would be less of a burden on students, the ministry decided to increase school hours to 38 per week from 32.
The new curriculum sparked controversy and polarized the nation when it was revealed in December, with proponents of the plan arguing that their children had long felt overburdened by the curriculum.
But opponents of the plan argued that it would make Indonesians less competitive in the globalized market and discriminate against those who could not afford to send their children to private English and science tuition centers.
The government has requested Rp 2.49 trillion ($257 million) to develop and implement the national school curriculum, which experts say could be used to address the discrepancy in the numbers of quality teachers between major cities and remote areas of the country.
“More than half of the budget will be used to purchase books and it’s not a secret that books procurement is an easy target for corruptors,” Siti said.
ICW reported that since 2004 to 2011 there were at least six corruption cases in books procurement that cause the state loss worth of Rp 54.9 billion.
Education Minister Mohammad Nuh said on Thursday that despite mounting criticism, the government would not postpone the implementation of the new curriculum.
“There will be no cancellation, we are going forward with the new curriculum, and there are only a few people who are speaking against the new curriculum anyway,” he said.