Education Shortcuts

Kompas Daily March 4, 2016 edition proclaimed the government plan to launch the S-2 equivalency program. This program is to deliver as soon as 69,000 lecturers who still hold a degree (S-1) because the government has a target by the end of 2017 all lecturers have master's degree (S-2).

This target is a revision because according to the Law on Teachers and Lecturers (Law Number 14 Year 2005), all lecturers should have been educated S-2 by the end of 2015. However, this plan needs to be criticized because it brings many consequences that leads to the destruction of important joints quality education and responsible in Indonesia.

The Law on Teachers and Lecturers is set by the government as an effort to improve the quality of education, especially higher education (PT). The government gives 10 years time so that all PT can fulfill this law. Unfortunately, there is no concrete-systemic step by the government other than providing scholarships. It is not surprising that finally 10 years is not enough. Because as if there is no way out to meet the provisions of the Act, the government plans to take a shortcut. On behalf of the Indonesian National Qualifiers Framework (KKNI), the government will grant mass degrees to these scholars through the S-2 equivalency program.

The way the government responds to the issue of quality of higher education is like the saying "bad face mirror cleft". Given the minimum quality standards not achieved, then the standard will be changed though indirectly. Indeed, the minimum standard of educated S-2 will not be changed by the government, but the meaning of S-2 to be changed. If the previous master's degree can only be obtained through a two-year learning activity and accompanied by the creation of a thesis, it is likely to be changed simply through education and short exercise and multiple choice written examinations.

If that is the case, the government may be considered to contaminate a master's degree. Indeed there is no specific standard for a master's degree, but it has become common practice in PT Indonesia that a master's degree can only be obtained through the making of a thesis that must be held in front of the board of examiners. I'm sure the S-2 equivalency program is getting rid of this heavy prerequisite because that's where the problem is not easy to get a master's degree. Without getting rid of thesis writing, S-2 equivalency will not reach the target within two years.

Misleading policy

In addition to the above technical issues, other key issues when this plan is realized, as if the issue of competence and quality has been resolved by labeling or titling. Competence that should be built through process and process control is well denied for the sake of achieving useless quantitative indicators. Granting the title actually does not alter the circumstances of anything other than altering the data.

This conversion becomes misleading when the new data is then understood regardless of the context and the process by which the data is changed. Just imagine when in two years as if we got a new magister as many as 69,000, but actually nothing new at all.

If the S-2 equivalent program is really rolled out, there will be a strong message of how the government itself deliberately destroys the most important and fundamental process of higher education, namely the occurrence of academic exercise. It is this exercise that shapes the academic competence of a person and may not be shortened the process into a short training or upgrading. This academic competence is essentially very different from the practical competence of a person. The ability of someone to do or create something can not be taken for granted with the achievement of academic competence.

Exercise berkegiatan academic directed to shape attitudes and abilities of a creative academic. That means he is training to find problems, formulate problem-solving methods, and make problem-solving recommendations after he tries to solve them. But keep in mind, the problem here is not just any problem, let alone technical issues like making this or assembling it. The problem formulated must be related to the problem of science development because the making of thesis is directed to increase knowledge in certain field.
The S-2 equivalency program is unlikely to replace sufficient academic exercise due to its "catch-all" nature. S-2 equivalency program only strengthens the occurrence of political imagery in the field of education through the achievement of indicators of the percentage of lecturers PT graduate degrees.

The principle of shortcuts

If the government continues to follow this principle of shortcuts, as has happened in Teacher Professional Education and Training, then the Indonesian education world will get worse because one of the sources of the poor quality of our education is the strength of formalism in the whole process of education. If the government itself is forced to choose the orientation on the output (formalities) rather than encourage a good and responsible process, then who else can improve our educational climate?

In the meantime, we should continue to be concerned because it is still rampant practice abal-abal college, fake diplomas, and services thesis making. The S-2 equivalency program will be understood by the public that the government itself agrees with the mentality of some people that the academic degree is the status, image, or statistical data rather than the academic competence. Thus, the government does not have to be uncomfortable, even in some degree to bless the practice of buying and selling fake degrees and diplomas.

Supposedly, when achievement targets are not achieved, the government must be honest to express what is causing it. When the government is honest, especially with regard to education issues, the community will be easy to accept and will even help to deal with the issue. However, if the achievement targets are formulated solely for the sake of political imagery, the government must accept its political reality and must continue to learn that the world of education is not an industrial or business world that is easily subject to various quantitative outcomes.

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Therefore, the use of the concept of KKNI to justify the birth of S-2 equalization program is too forced. KKNI should only serve as a reference mechanism to create equality of recognition and respect between academic competence and practical competence, and not to become an academic degree of equality.

If it is to be consistent in using KKNI, a mechanism for recognizing the practical competence of graduates of S-1 graduates can be used to obtain professional lecturer status (read lecturer). Thus, that needs to be amended enough by regulation to obtain the recognition of professional educators who currently require a minimum of S-2 educated.

Indeed there is still a problem because it is written in Law Number 14 Year 2005 that the lecturer should be educated S-2. However, the timing of the attainment of the mandate of this law until 2017 is also an offense. Therefore, the basic question, why the government does not dare to firmly apply this law? Likely the 69,000 figure is scattered in thousands of PT so it is possible to find a way of settlement that is local in every PT and do not need uniform, systemic, and massive settlement at the national level which is fatal to the overall education climate of Indonesia.

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