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English Not Spoken Here

Jakarta’s Plans to Eliminate English and Science from the National Grade School Curriculum Greeted with Dismay and Disbelief in Bali

(10/29/2012) A proposal by the Indonesian government to eliminate English and Science from the national curriculum of grade school students has been greeted with shock and dismay in many quarters in Bali.

Quoted in Nusa Bali, the secretary of Commission D of the Bali House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali), A.A. Putu Wibawa said that the removal of English for the grade school curriculum by the Ministry of Education and Culture must be seen as a retreat and a sidelining of advances taking place internationally in technology.

The man who administers the DPRD Commission charged with oversight of educational matters commented, “Now, if you even want to access a computer you need a foreign language.”

In Wibawa’s view, English language forms the basis of international knowledge, especially in the fields of information and technology (IT). Because of this, if Jakarta’s plans to eliminate English language and science education for young Indonesians goes ahead, he is asking that a requirement for English lessons be imposed on the provincial level in Bali. Adding, “I think that lessons in English must be maintained, even (if only) as a local component in their education.”

Commenting further, Wibawa questioned the arguments put forth by the Ministry of Education that the elimination of English was needed to optimize the study of Indonesian and regional languages. Asking: “What’s the connection between the elimination of English? There’s no correlation with (advancing Indonesian and local languages) eliminating English.”

Meanwhile, educational experts have joined the chorus, decrying the elimination of English as a step backward in Indonesian educaitonal policy, insisting the proposal be carefully reviewed.

Among those calling for a reconsideration are Bali educational experts Dr. Ir. Putu Rumawan Salain M. Ed. and Drs. I Putu Sarjna M. Sci..  Said Putu Sarjana, “The recommendation is a step backward in a global situation in which competition is increasing.”

If this plan goes ahead, Sarjana said the students will suffer, citing the example of the Scholastic International Olympiad for grade school students that is always conducted in English.

The educator said that if the government wishes to strengthen knowledge of Indonesian and other languages, the government does not need to eliminate the study of English. He also commented that the use of English is especially important in Bali as an international tourism destination. He concluded, that without a command of English the people of Bali will be increasingly marginalized and incapable of competing internationally.