The growing number of national plus schools in Jakarta and other major cities in Indonesia has demonstrated an increasing awareness of the importance of quality education.
The schools, which combine national and foreign educational systems in their curricula, provide good alternatives for parents seeking quality education for their children.
National plus schools differ from conventional ones in that they generally employ international education systems in addition to their national curriculum.
Some of them adopt the education systems of certain countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom and Singapore. Others use the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, which has been adopted by thousands of schools in the world.
Using both Bahasa Indonesia and English as the languages of instruction is also a main characteristic of national plus schools.
Other characteristics include the provision of quality teaching and learning facilities and resources. The educational programs reflect student-oriented learning delivered by teachers trained in up-to-date and effective methodologies.
National plus schools first appeared in Indonesia in the early 1990s, when a number of educational institutions were allowed to adopt international education programs to supplement their national curricula.
The number of these elite schools has grown rapidly since then. The Association of National Plus Schools (ANPS) estimates that there are more than 100 schools that claim to be national plus ones, but only about 50 of them have registered with the association and meet its standards.
The lack of accreditation standards to determine the quality of national plus schools has been a source of confusion for the public. As the Ministry of National Education is yet to issue criteria for the opening of a national plus school, any school can claim itself to be national plus, only by adding certain classes in addition to their national curriculum.
It is, certainly, bad news for the parents. But the initiatives taken recently by ANPS to issue accreditation standards for its members will be quite helpful.
Although there are a lot of national plus schools in almost all major cities of Indonesia, it is not always easy to find the right school for your child. Here are some tips:
Gather information * Are published reports or brochures about the school available? Ask the school to send them to you. * Can the school provide you with statistics on student test scores, discipline, attendance and parent satisfaction surveys? Ask if they can send them to you. * Do you know other parents who have children at this school? Ask about their impressions and experiences. * If you are considering a startup school, what evidence can the school founders provide to show that the model for the school will be effective?
* Talk to the teachers and principal to find out how well the school meets your child’s learning needs and the services that are most important to you. Here are other questions you might ask: * Does the school have a special program focus or curriculum? What kinds of global curriculum do they adopt? If so, what are the main features? * What is the average class size? * What is the school’s mission and educational philosophy? * What are the school’s goals? How does the school plan to achieve them? * What are the school’s standards? For example, what should children know by the fourth grade in science, or what writing skills should they be able to demonstrate by the end of the sixth grade? * Does the school expect every child to meet the same standards? The school should prepare all students to successfully compete in today’s demanding world. * What kind of extra help is available for students who may be struggling in academic areas?
Parents’ Involvement. * How are you greeted by administrators, teachers and office staff? * How are parents involved in the school? * Is there an active parent organization in the school? * How often do teachers communicate with parents? Are their communications clear and respectful? * Are parent conferences set up at times that are convenient for parents? Are parents given plenty of advance notice so they can arrange to meet with teachers?
If you are still unsure about what to do, it would be wise to contact the Association of National Plus Schools (ANPS) or send an e-mail to the association’s executive director Weilin Han: email@example.com for more information.