Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara. Technical glitches continued to hinder the second day of controversial competency tests for teachers, with power outages and Internet connection problems forcing some areas to cancel the test altogether.
Teachers in Mataram already had to delay their tests after organizers struggled to connect computers to the main server in Jakarta on Monday. The connection was eventually made, but on Tuesday a power outage led to further delays and growing frustration with the process.
“This blackout did not just happen in Mataram but also in West Lombok,” said one of the test organizers, Sri Sukriani.
“A number of schools that were being used as test venues suddenly lost power.”
She said that her team had contacted the state utility company, PLN, explaining that power was desperately needed for the test, but that no real response was forthcoming from the company.
“We will contact the main Jakarta office to talk about this,” she said.
“How can we conduct an assessment when we are hit with one technical problem after another?”
The testing, which is being conducted nationwide by the Ministry of Education and Culture, aims to establish a baseline of teacher competency and produce data that will inform education policy changes, said Syawal Gultom, head of the ministry’s human resource development and education quality division.
“This test is like a general checkup,” Syawal said. “If we do not understand the disease, then we will not know what cure is needed.”
The tests are voluntary, but all of Indonesia’s 1,016,211 registered teachers have been urged to participate, he said.
Make-up tests for teachers who did not participate the first time around are scheduled for Oct. 2.
In Denpasar, organizers also struggled with a bad Internet connection to the ministry’s main server in Jakarta. In some areas, the test had to be postponed for hours, while in other areas Tuesday’s tests were canceled altogether.
The head of quality assurance at Bali’s education office, Wayan Sunata, said the delays affected the participants mentally and hurt their test results. Sixty percent of Bali’s teachers scored poorly on Tuesday’s test.
“The competency tests ran into some problems so things got delayed a few hours and some had to be canceled and rescheduled,” he said.
Connection problems were also experienced in Bogor, just south of Jakarta.
“We had prepared 18 schools as venues,” said the head of Bogor’s education office, Oki Tri Fasiasta.
“The problem is with Jakarta. The connection to the server was not good so the data couldn’t be synchronized correctly. Sometimes the screen was just blank and some participants were unable to log in. So we had no choice but to postpone the test and reschedule it.”
Similar problems were experienced in Bengkulu, in Sumatra.
Education Minister Mohammad Nuh said teachers’ scores would not affect their jobs. Low scores will not mean pay cuts, transfers or other sanctions.
“Nothing like that at all,” said Nuh, who monitored Monday’s testing at SMPN 19 state junior high school in South Jakarta.
“This will merely allow us to determine where improvements can be made.”