Joko Plans to Abolish National Exam for Younger Students

Indonesian students' test results consistently rank below the global average, despite large-scale budget allocation for schools. (AFP Photo/Aman Rochman)

Medan. Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) presidential hopeful Joko Widodo on Tuesday said that he would eliminate Indonesia’s national exam for elementary and junior high school students if elected.

“It’s better if there’s no national exam for students in elementary school and junior high school,” Joko said at a teachers’ workshop in North Sumatra. “It’s better to look stupid but be smart, rather than to look intellectual but be stupid. It’s better to listen to people’s opinion rather than act like a know-it-all.”

The teachers said “Amen.”

He was referring to controversy surrounding the exam: critics have argued that the test is so difficult that it encourages rote learning and memorization aimed at achieving a high exam score rather than depth or subtly of comprehension.

Education Minister Muhammad Nuh last year said that he would eliminate the elementary school exam in 2014, which he did. But the government replaced it with a new, similar test, 75 percent of which was written by local education agencies and 25 percent of which was written by the central government.

  • JokiO

    many teachers will be looking for alternative cash cows methinks

  • Max Headroom

    Great idea! But, as also mentioned – to “eliminate” officially the National Exam (for elementary schools) and then just replacing it with another kind of similar exam is NOT elimination as Minister Nuh did.

  • PakLe

    good. May common sense continue to prevail.


    This is good, shows sign of education reforms a path which is worth pursuing. I though believe that further acts should be taken… following SBY’s reallocation of funds from the military export towards the education sector should set us up to better quality education for the nation. However i still believe that national schools by its nature (all government provided good even) especially in the scale of a nation that has more than 200 million inhabitants very inefficient. Subsidizing private schools or imposing much more relaxed regulation ( such as less taxes for opening more branches etc.) to encourage more enrollment should eliminate some of the inefficiency in the education system. By its nature the private sector is competitive (speaking from experience) boasting better curriculum that encourages kids to think rather than memorize. I understand the problem that not everyone can afford especially the poorest of the poor, but already branches of school such as Sekolah Lentera Harapan boast a much better standard than most national school. the reforms should seek to encourage the expansion of these entities, already they are charging bearable fees compared to their big brother school Sekolah Pelita Harapan. What ever the case Indonesia MUST reform its education system, this will have very good long term affects. A young population that is adapt with skills (notice its more than one) will make them more flexible in the face of structural unemployment. The threat is real Indonesia’s growth is closely related to the growth of neighboring China. Their development demanded our natural resources ( coals etc.) seeing that their growth has slowed down so does the demand. A possibility of thousands of these mine workers experiencing wide spread unemployment ( structural) is on the brinks. The education reforms would not only make Indonesia’s young population insusceptible to this kind of unemployment but will make us much more competitive in the world market. These talks of reforms are a very good sign for a better and stronger Indonesia.

  • privateinvestors

    oh I am so much in agree to this.. hope it will happen soon..
    better look stupid but smart?? nice.. I like this type of thinking.. good one sir..
    Majority of people living in Jakarta Menteng elite district look stupid, but their asset networth are millions USD$