National Plus Schools
There is a lot of confusion as to what makes a National Plus School, not least within the Association of National Plus Schools (ANPS).
A national plus school can be:
- Any school that labels itself as national plus;
- A member of the Association of National Plus Schools (ANPS), which is open to any school upon payment of membership fee; or
- An accredited member of the ANPS, certified to meet certain standards.
The public should be aware that not every school that calls itself national plus is a member of ANPS, and that not every member of ANPS is accredited by ANPS.
For parents, a key component should be that "the school develops and uses national and international learning outcomes in their curriculum framework."
Specifically, this means that English is used as the predominant language for student learning in at least the core subjects of English, Mathematics and Science, whereas other subjects could be taught in Indonesian. It can be expected that the school offers a non-Indonesian curriculum and probably uses the national curriculum in parallel.
Non-denominational schools predominantly use the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) as their core curricula thus enabling their graduates to enter universities outside Indonesia. The neighboring Singaporean curriculum is predominantly used in Chinese-Christian schools.
National Plus Schools must also provide "clear evidence of respect, preservation and promotion of Indonesian culture and environments including Indonesian visual and performing arts."
Parents should be aware whether the prospective school is, for example, IB-candidate or IB-accredited. Being accredited is a better guarantee of standards.
ACADEMIC OLYMPIADS AS MARKETING PLOYS
It is a sad commentary on Indonesian education that there are no specific "fitness tests" for school owners, and many schools are viewed as profit centers. Education expert HAR Tilaar said "Education has been handed over to the free market, without any control from the government. Only the rich own education now."
The teaching staff are not always given the opportunities for professional development, such as workshops or seminars. There have also been a number of instances when teachers have been fired without due consideration of the industrial relations law.
Students with specific skills or interests are given special attention in order to garner 'prizes' in competitions or 'Olympiads'; these are viewed as valuable marketing ploys.
No guarantee of probity
Prospective parents are well advised to talk with teachers and other parents before enrolling their children in a particular privately owned school. Ascertain how long the school has been open, and who sits on the board of governors. Being a former Minister of Education is no guarantee of the probity of a school's management.
A good assessor of a school is a prospective student. Ask your children what they like or don't like about the school. Do they think they can make friends easily? What do other students think about the school? Does the school offer creative outlets?
What facilities are there? Check the equipment in the science laboratories, look for mixed-media artwork on display, look for a range of fiction as well as reference books in the library, and check that there are quiet places to read them.
Above all, ask yourself if you would like to have been a student there.