Beranda PSPK Volume XV: Character Education and 21st Century Skills in Development Planning

Jakarta (2018), located in the Library Discussion Room of the Ministry of Education and Culture Republic of Indonesia, PSPK once again held a public discussion through Beranda PSPK. The current volume of Beranda PSPK raised the topic “Character Education and 21st Century Skills in Development Planning”. Attended by three keynote speakers, namely Dr. Ir. Subandi, MS. (Deputy of Human Development, Society and Culture for BAPPENAS), Dr. Supriano, M. Ed. (The Director General of Teachers and Education Personnel of the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia), and Najelaa Shihab (PSPK Researcher) and moderated by Iwan Syahril, Ph. D. (PSPK Researcher and  Sampoerna University Lecturer), the discussion was conducted in a participatory manner for approximately two hours.

Iwan Syahril, Ph.S. as the moderator opened the discussion with a fundamental question whether the current education has been directed towards the principle of wholeness and balance, where all aspects inherent in students become equally important, especially in addressing challenges in the 21st century. Moreover, Ki Hajar Dewantara himself in 1946 argued that Indonesian education placed too much emphasis on high achievements instead of children’s psychological development. This also relates to the quality of Indonesian education which is often difficult to translate into a policy framework.

The first session of the discussion was opened by a presentation from Najelaa Shihab which illustrated why discussing the quality of education is a very important matter. Based on research conducted on a number of policy documents, the quality of education has actually become one of the objectives in development planning, including the field of education. In the RPJMN document 20015-2019 for example, the quality of education has become one of the directed strategies in achieving the development objectives. While in various directions of education policy ranging from the National Education System Legislation (UU sisdiknas), accreditation standards, national education standards, to character education that consistently shows the same pattern where the description of graduates needed includes full capabilities ranging from knowledge, attitudes, and skills.

Najelaa also explained that this is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals which emphasizes a number of skills that are crucial for students to have in the 21st century. Several studies describe the importance of seeing these non cognitive aspects as part of the same contribution to student success in the present and the future. For example, a study conducted by the OECD (2014) which shows that mental disorders contribute to a decrease in GDP of up to 5 percent. Therefore, Najelaa translates this into a policy framework through recommendations for the use of AKSI (Indonesian Student Competency Assessment) as an alternative indicator in describing student graduates comprehensively, in terms of cognitive and non cognitive aspects.

Continuing the previous elaboration, Dr. Ir. Subandi, MS. pointed out the difficulty of determining the proper indicators in describing the quality of education. In the last ten years, the focus of development planning has been dominated by access expansion. For holistic education quality, the quality of teachers is one of the indicators in education planning, where the proxy of teacher’s quality is demonstrated through teacher certification. Meanwhile, the quality of students is described through UN (National Exam), IIUN (National Exam Integrity Index), and PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment). Regarding the non cognitive aspects of students, Subandi agreed that along with the development of the 21st century, comprehensive student skills are greatly required. This needs to be supported by a healthy school environment that is supported by the trust from parents and the character of the school teachers as well who must become students’ role model. He also stated that currently there are no indicators used in development planning in the education sector to picturize the discussed matter. According to him, we can see other indicators related to non-cognitive aspects from other fields, for example the tolerance index from the results of the National Socio Economic Survey (Susenas) regarding Social and Cultural Education.

In response, the moderator continued the discussion from an educational policy perspective through the presentation of Dr. Supriano, M. Ed. in the framework of teacher development policies. According to Supriano, qualified teachers distribution through a school zonation system is one of the alternatives to improve education quality. There are approximately 2578 zones in each MGMP (Musyawarah Guru Mata Pelajaran) that require intervention. He added that core teachers in each zone had been formed, each teacher is expected to be able to encourage other teachers around them to apply good practices in the classroom.

The discussion continued with feedback that was delivered by several participants that represented a number of stakeholders. Dr. Wawan, M. Pd. (UPI FMIPA Lecturer) presented how good practices conducted by LPTK (Lembaga Pendidikan Tenaga Keguruan) in developing the character of university students – soon to be teachers – through class practicums. Besides that, Dr. Panjaitan (Secretary General of Taman Siswa) addressed the importance of upholding values of Ki Hajar Dewantara in character education.

Beside the AKSI indicators, several aspects such as school culture and values from character education also require student’s experience and skills in order to develop in the future. This is related to 21st century skills such as student’s  self regulation and intrinsic motivation. Therefore, coordination among several relevant Ministries, such as BAN (Board of National Accredication), BNSP (National Professional Certification Board), Balitbang, and Disdasmen is extremely needed.

Responding to this, Najelaa addressed that these aspects were indeed important, although in practice including all these aspects in policy planning is not easy. Involving non-cognitive aspects which are as important as cognitive aspects alone has become an important step in the policy framework as we continue to improve how to measure them.

Closing the discussion, the moderator delivered important points in the discussion that focused on issues related to the next step that needs to pay attention to a number of aspects, including: 1) commitment from all stakeholders that non-cognitive aspects are important outputs in the education process; 2) clarification of roles and concepts to avoid confusion in implementation; and 3) besides outputs, it is also important to improve the system capacity and process.

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