National Examination? or National Excruciation?
Last week, some 2.5 million senior high school students across the country have taken National Examination (UN). This week, around 4 million junior high school students take the UN. Despite all the protests made by education practitioners, teachers, students, and education activists, our Education and Culture Minister Muhammad Nuh stayed over-consistent with what he had decided. In 2008 the ministry of Education
had been challenged by some group of teachers in High Court to abolish National Examination. However, the verdict of the High Court ruled in favor of Education and Culture ministry but the government should improve the education standard and facilities in school all over Indonesia. This decision does not satisfy the majority of the society who are still against the existence of National Examination. This situation creates public debates about whether or not we should use National Examination as a finaltestfor students in elementary, junior, and also senior high school. Personally we think National Examination should be abolishedbecauseit is not inline with the nature of
evaluation, it shifts the goal of education, and it systhematically triggers cheating.
The proposition of UN claims that National Examination is important for standarization. However, if we analize it deeper we will know that this assertion is false. The first analisis is that, standarization can only be achieved if the other variable is the same. However, in UN the other variable such as the availability of the facilities, the depth of the explanation of the teacher, and the teaching system is different. So the idea of standarization cannot be achieved through National Examination. The second analysis is that, standarization it self bassically is not important, because we have to give chance to every school to develop by themselve using their own standart. The third analysis is that, even if we want to have the same standart of education for every region in Indonesia, what needs to be standardized is not the outcome of the education process but rather the facility which supports the learning and teaching process. If we want all school in Indonesia to have good quality we need to make sure that the availability of textbook, teachers, and learning materials in each and every school in Indonesia is good, not by forcing them to have the same quality of the outcome.
National examination is not inline with the nature of evaluation. Ideally, evaluation is a set of test to check whether or not the education process that has been going on for a certain period of time works. To make sure that the evaluation can completely evaluate the education process, we have to make sure that the material in the evaluation tests completely match with the material given in education process. The reason is that, eventhough general the curriculum is the same, how deep a teacher explain materials in the learning process might be different from one school to another. The only way we can achieve this situation is when the one who make the evaluation tests is the teacher herself. However, we can see in UN, the one who make the evaluation questions is a team consisting groups of teachers and lecturers who might know the general material which should be tested but exactly do not know the real process of teaching-and learning in each and every school which implement UN. When we force this situation to continue, the result of UN will not be able to picture the real achievement of the students. A certain school needs more difficult questions to picture the achievement of their students, and some other school might need easier questions to know their students’ achievement.
National examination shifts the real goal of education. The biggest goal of all education process basically not to make students being able to answer questions in tests, but instead to cultivate critical thinking. The abililty to have critical thinking is what distinguises people who are educated and those who do not have chance to taste the education. We can take an example how in the process of teaching biology, after the teacher explain about the characteristics of vertebre,
the students are asked to indentify which animals belong to vertebre. This system shows that not only students have to be able to re-explain the characteristics of vertebre, they are also expected to be able to critically think and indentify which animals have the same characteristics as what the teacher explained. However, with the existance of UN this holy goal of education is shifted to be something more shallow, the ability to answer the questions correctly. The positioin of UN which is seen as the biggest factor to identify whether or not the educatioin process has been successful automatically makes us place it as the goal of education. However, UN only measures whether or not we can answer the questions correctly regardless our ability to think critically. So it creates
paradigm in our mind that the goal of education is the ability to answers the question in the final examination. As a result, the goal of education is no longer to create critical thinking but rather to have the ability to memorize theories and formulas to answer the question. This will lead to a degradation of the value of education in general.
Not only that National Examination creates problem in the phylosophical level, it is also problematic in the practical level, because National Examination systhematically triggers cheating. We already know that since it is first implemented in 2008 the problem of cheating always
appear in UN. To overcome this problem the government has implemented several points of prevention in the form of stricker questionsheet distribution, cooperating with the National Police Department (POLRI), and even to make 5 different set of questions which are distributed randomly in the class to prevent cheating. However, all of these mechanisms proven to be useless in solving the problem of cheating in UN. We can see in UN of senior high school students this year, more than a thousand of cheating had been reported to the National Committee of National Examination Watch. If we analyze this problem deeper we will find that eventhough we have more strict regulation the cheating would still be there because UN systhematically triggers cheating. The reason is that, it creates fear massively in the mindset of the students. Because of this fear, the students are not able to think logically so they want to find the fastest and the easiest way to find the answer which in this case through cheating. Not only that it creates fear, it also puts a burden on the teachers, school, and also region. The reason is that, after the UN’s result is announced there will be comparison of the achievement between regions. Every leader of the region wants the UN result in their area to be the best to prove that they are good leaders, so they put more pressure on school. Every school also wants to achieve best in their area, so they put more burden on the teachers. Because of this chain of burden, there is a tendency of the teacher to help the students in doing the tests so the cheating is done not only by the students but also the teachers.
From all of these explanation we can conclude that we should abolish national examination, because it is not inline with the nature of evaluation, it shifts the goal of education, and it systhematically triggers cheating