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Human Rights Education in Asian Schools Volume II

Human Rights Education in Indonesian Primary Schools

Djoehana Oka

Unlike Sri Lanka, Japan, India and the Philippines, Indonesia does not have a human rights course in schools. It does, however, offer at all educational levels a compulsory subject called Pancasila Moral Education and Civics (PMEC), in which, presumably unwittingly, the importance of human rights is brought up.

Pancasila, meaning "five principles," is the Indonesian nation's life philosophy, and constitutes a belief in God, humanity, unity, democracy and social justice. The subject serves as a means to:

  • develop and perpetuate the Pancasila's values in everyday life;
  • develop in the students an awareness of their rights and duties, obedience to laws and regulations, and a noble disposition; and
  • develop an awareness and understanding of interrelations among the family, school, society and nation. The subject's main objective is to implant in students, both as individuals and members of society, positive attitudes and behavior that will help them develop fully and harmoniously (Depdikbud 1994).

The teaching-learning process of PMEC abides by a set of guidelines. Those stipulated for the primary school include the following:

  • PMEC is presented as a continuous whole and uses the moral education approach.
  • PMEC is taught in all six grades, during one two-hour meeting a week, amounting to 34 meetings a year and 204 meetings for the entire six years.
  • General moral values are specified into instrumental values that become topics to be learned. The distribution of topics are more or less grade-specific.
  • The instructional objectives are grade-specific. The objectives in the lower grades are primarily cognitive, whereas those for the upper grades are both cognitive and affective.
  • The presentation of topics should proceed from easy to difficult, simple to complicated, concrete to abstract, narrow to broad.
  • Learning activities should be both familiar and beneficial to the students, and should meet the nation's expectations.
  • The teaching-learning process should aim at knowing, understanding and applying each topic.
  • The teacher should enrich the learning process by providing supplementary material.
  • The teacher is free to present the topics in an integrated manner, and to choose appropriate teaching-learning strategies.
  • The evaluation process should be objective-oriented and should use appropriate techniques.
  • Teachers should realize the importance of the family and community in PMEC (Depdikbud 1994).

PMEC covers 90 topics evenly distributed among the six grades. Seemingly ambitious, actually many of the topics overlap, meaning that the same topic (sensitivity, for example) is taken up in several grades. A number of topics (love, compassion, humanity, care, public interest, for example) may fall under one category. As reorganized, therefore, there are actually 43 topics of which about 30 percent are either directly or closely related to human rights (Table 1) (Depdikbud 1994).

Table 1 shows that many of the topics (with an asterisk) are either directly or closely related to human rights values and that they take about half the time allotted to PMEC, or approximately 102 meetings. Since so much time is spent on PMEC, which touches on human rights, the education authorities do not deem a special program for human rights to be necessary.

Recent developments, as well as time-honored habits, however, do not justify this assumption. Arbitrary arrests, kidnapping, torture, detention, unfair trials and sentences by law enforcers, poor pay and a low standard of living, restrictions on the freedom of expression, and to top it all, religious, ethnic and racial discrimination and riots, all but prove that the PMEC program is ineffective, if not a failure. The seemingly less serious, but more frequent, human rights offenses, including insults, jokes and comments aimed at physical and mental defects, also show that the program is deficient.

The problem does not lie so much in the nature of the program as in its implementation. Although it is true that the program lacks theoretical bases (for example, how are grade-specific topics determined?), its major drawback is poor application. My recent preliminary survey on the teaching-learning process of PMEC in six state primary schools in Malang revealed that cognitive objectives are the teacher's main concern, whereas affective and behavioral objectives are basically neglected or handled ineffectively. Students learn about the nature and importance of the values from books and from the teacher. Tasks are mainly textbook-based. Some teachers may go as far as using simulation and role-playing, and bringing students to occasional trips to museums, temples, train stations, recreation centers and the like. All six schools require students to contribute regularly to the alms box or to the building of a mosque as the only way to teach the students humanity.

These findings show that the teachers do not understand the essence of human rights and human rights education (HRE), and support the conclusion of the 1997 Bangkok Meeting summary that teachers are among the major problems in HRE.


Table 1: Distribution of PMEC Topics among the Six Grades of the Primary School


TOPICGRADEOCCURENCE

123456Total%
1. TidinessV




11.11
2. *HumanityVVV
VVV
66.67
3. *PatriotismV



V22.22
4. *Law & OrderVVVV

44.44
5. *CooperationVVV
V
44.44
6. *Peace & HamonyVV
V
VV55.55
7. *CourageVV



22.22
8. CleanlinessV




11.11
9. ThriftinessV




11.11
10. *JusticeV




11.11
11. PietyVV

V
33.33
12. *SolidarityV




11.11
13. ObedienceVV



22.22
14. *RespectVV
V
V44.44
15. Conviction
VV
V
33.33
16. Satisfaction
V
V

22.22
17. Honesty
VVV

33.33
18. Simplicity
V



11.11
19. Sacrifice
VV


22.22
20. Discipline
V
V

22.22
21. *Family Spirit
VV


22.22
22. Unselfishness
VV

V33.33
23. Perseverance
V


V22.22
24. *Rights, Duties & Reponsibilities

VVVV44.44
25.Consensus

V


11.11
26. *Sensitivity

VVVVV55.55
27. Dedication

V

V22.22
28. Accuracy

V


12.22
29. Self-confidence


V

22.22
30. *Freedom


VV
21.11
31. Sense of beauty


VV
22.22
32. Curiosity


V
V12.22
33. Preparedness


V

11.11
34. Diligence


VV
22.22
35. Firmness



V
11.11
36. Politeness



V
11.11
37. Residence



V
11.11
38. Heroism



V
11.11
39. *Self-control



VV22.22
40. *Broadmindedness




V11.11
41. Oneness & Unity




V11.11
42. Wisdom




V11.11
43. Sincerity



V
11.11










Total
151614161514
90

100.00


Although I completely agree with the meeting's conclusion that government bureaucrats' negative attitude toward HRE is major obstacle, I also contend that correcting and improving HRE should start with the teacher. First, teachers are accessible. Second, they are generally positively inclined to attend training programs because they add color to their drab existence and credit points to their professional record. Third, and most important, because they exert an extraordinary influence on students, teachers are powerful, probably the most powerful, element in the teaching-learning process. A teacher training program in HRE as suggested by the meeting would, therefore, benefit teachers and PMEC in general.

However, what teachers in Indonesia most fear about new ideas is that they may have to change the curriculum and teach for more hours. Their fears have to be allayed. New insights, ideas and strategies need not entail curriculum changes nor encumber the teacher with extra chores. In Indonesia, teaching human rights values is already integrated into an existing, relevant subject, which is taught for enough hours. No change in curriculum is necessary, but teachers must be more focused and use more effective presentations, strategies, materials, activities and evaluation techniques. In language art education, I found that most primary school teachers wish to learn different, more effective and more motivating teaching-learning methods and techniques, but at no inconvenience to themselves. I am certain that PMEC teachers feel the same way.

Teaching training programs are usually initiated from above by government, and private, local, regional and national authorities. Since most authorities are "allergic" to HRE programs, they cannot be relied upon to support them. However, people with NGO expertise in organizing human rights training programs for a variety of audiences can initiate teacher training programs. It would be excellent if such programs started among primary school teachers.

References

HURIGHTS OSAKA. 1997. "Human Rights, Culture and the Schools." FOCUS Asia-Pacific 10. Osaka: Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center.

Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan. 1994/1995. Jakarta: Depdikbud

Kurikulum Pendidikan Dasar. 1994. Garis-garis Besar Program Pengajaran. Jakarta: Depdikbud.

Sarna, Shirley. 1996. For the Dawn of a New Millennium : Human Rights Education. Quebec: Commission on Human Rights and Rights of Citizens.


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