11 January 2011

Legislating Student Study Time...

As a teacher it would be a very positive development if students would study for at least two hours a day in addition to the six or so hours they spend at school. The reality is that students need to be inspired to do this. However, the Depok City Council has decided that the best way to get students to study is to pass a city ordinance (by law) that mandates students must study for two hours between the hours of 6pm and 8pm. The ordinance requires that students also spend some of this time studying the history of Depok.

It is hardly surprising that the driving force behind such a law is none other than one of the wives of Tifatul Sembiring (TitS), Sri Rahayu. Obviously, there is some family competition here as to who can garner the most coverage for the promotion of ineffective legislation. Rahayu's argument is that Indonesians must accept that to be a scholarly nation they have to ingrain study into the culture of the masses. If they won't come willingly, then we will legislate to make it happen.

There are a couple of problems with the legislation. There is no Depok history curriculum in place. This curriculum will not be in place until at least 2012. More importantly, the ordinance does not include any sanctions for failure to comply. Herein lies the problem. If students are not inspired or inclined to study then they won't, particularly when they know that they will not be punished for not doing it. And, parents need not fear the long arm of the Depok ordinance if they too cannot be punished for not forcing their children to study.

What would be interesting is if the ordinance included provisions to set up the education police. The education police would be granted the authority to randomly visit homes of school-age children and check that they are at home and doing their homework. The ordinance would even be a little scary if the education police then had the power to impose on-the-spot fines or arrest children they found wandering out on the streets or in malls and send them to "reform schools" for the truanting and delinquent type.

The ordinance goes on to say that the community is obligated to create an environment that is conducive to studying. I wonder if this means that Mosques will not be able to have loud calls to prayer or Koran recitals during the hours of 6pm to 8pm?

Unfortunately, the ordinance is a waste of time and has been a waste of taxpayer Rupiah as there has simply been no consideration given to enforcement. The standard problem of any piece of legislation at any level of government is enforcement. If no thought is given to enforcement and no provisions are put into place allowing for enforcement or compliance to occur, then compliance will just not happen.

As an educator, I want to see children learn, I want to see children gain the knowledge they require to be successful, I want to see children contribute now and in the future, and I want to know that they have been inspired to learn. But, this ordinance is not the way to create a nation of learners.

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