One of the most discussed headlines on newspapers and television screen these days is the endless pros and contras of National Exam (Unas). The previous administration insisted that National Exam had to be held. However, a group of students and parents has recently filed a lawsuit against the government at the Central Jakarta District Court, seeking to eliminate National Exam. The suit accused the state of denying the students the right to an education because they were unable to attend university after failing National Exam.
After a marathon of law process, The Supreme Court finally issued a rule demanding the government to take steps to improve the quality of education before another national exam can be administered. The latest news I heard said that the government insisted that National Exam will be held this year. I guess the government made the decision because they considered that it is the best to do as National Exam should be held after a while whereas there has not been any better substitute for the recent version of National Exam. Furthermore, if the government eliminated National Exam this year without any substitute, it also would be a foolish decision.
No matter what the government’s decision, I really respect their quick decision. We all need certainty within a very short period of time for preparing the exam. The condition could be worse if the government put off the decision.
Do we really need National Exam?
For government, National Exam is aimed to maintain the quality of education nationwide and to set up the national standard for junior and senior high schools. For this reason, the previous administration insisted that National Exam could not be eliminated.
However, the practice doesn’t sound as nice as that stated goal. It was reported that many students cheated in the exam. Not only students, some teachers were also reported helping their students to cheat. I think this humiliating practice occured because students were pushed to pass their education. Because the exam’s result influenced whether a student would pass his education or not, the students cheated in the exam in order to get good result. Besides, schools were also pushed to pass as many as possible their students because how many students they could pass and what the average result of the exam they could get determined their prestige and reputation among the public. For this reason, the schools demanded their teachers to help the students cheating in the exam.
Back to the question: do we really need national Exam? The goal determined by the government sounds nice. They want to improve the quality of education nationwide by means of a standardized test called National Exam. They want that all schools across the country have the same standard indicated by the minimum passing grade of National Exam.
However, those who don’t agree with the government argue that the recent condition doesn’t support the government’s decision. The government has not provided qualified teachers and required education facilities in a great number of schools – particularly outside Java Island – as they have already provided them in big cities. Students in Merauke, for example, do not have the same educational access as students in Jakarta or other big cities. So, according to those who don’t agree to National Exam, if all students nationwide are examined by the same standardized test, it must be not fair.
Furthermore, they argue that National Exam functioned to determine whether a student passes his education is narrowing the definition of education. Education doesn’t only covers cognitive faculty. It also covers attitude, personality, and skills. Hence, determining whether a student passes his education by means of National Exam only is not in line with the comprehensive definition of education. Besides, that will negate the uniqueness of students. As it is known, some students are excellent in their cognitive but they don’t have good personality. Some other students have impressing personality – and probably outstanding skill – but they are not good enough in their cognitive. There are also some cases that some students were smart but they failed in one subject examined in National Exam. As a result, they unluckily could not pass their education.
What if National Exam doesn’t determine whether a student passes his education?
The pros and contras appears because National Exam determines whether a student passes his education or not. Now, what’s your opinion if National Exam is not eliminated but it doesn’t determine whether a student passes his education.
I don’t know what your opinion, but I would like to tell you mine. According to me, National Exam needs not be eliminated as long as it doesn’t determine whether a student passes his education. In this case, National Exam will be only a tool to measure the quality of schools nationwide. Any school that doesn’t meet the minimum passing grade of the exam should evaluate its educational process. It probably needs to upgrade the quality of its teachers, improve its educational resources, or add its educational facilities.
Seeking the Best Solution
National Exam has been becoming pros and contras among the people. It is impossible that there won’t be any contra of a government’s policy. However, when the contras come from a great number of the people, it means there is something wrong with the policy. In the case of National Exam, many experts have given their opinions and suggestions, whereas the government is to decide.
I propose that the government – the ministry of education in this case – should meet some education experts to discuss the best solution. The discussion should be held seriously in an adequate period of time. And the most important is that the decision should not be implemented too quickly. There must be an adequate time interval to socialize the decision as well as to prepare everything needed.