"It is not a must for a new minister to introduce a new policy, let alone do so without carefully studying it in the first place," Chairman of the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) Arorun Ni`am said.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The pioneering idea floated by the education minister to introduce a full day school education system wherein students will undertake extracurricular activities and thus receive character education after formal classroom has elicited much public response.

The idea was floated by Education and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy to introduce the full day school system for basic education, both for private and state elementary (SD) and lower secondary (SMP) schools. Students will remain at school during the hours when their parents are still at work in the office.

The full day school system will help develop the character of children, instead of leaving them free to indulge in any unsavory activity when parents are not home to supervise, Minister Effendy said at a function in Malang, East Java, on Sunday.

However, many quarters considered it important that implications of any such idea be studied thoroughly. Chairman of the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) Arorun Niam cautioned that the full day school system needs to be carefully evaluated before it is implemented.

"It is not a must for a new minister to introduce a new policy, let alone do so without carefully studying it in the first place. It could harm the interest of the children," Niam stated in a written message issued in Jakarta on Tuesday.

A national policy with regard to education cannot be formulated and implemented only based on the experience of individuals. It will have a wide impact and the idea needs comprehensive assessment.

According to Willgo Zainar, a lawmaker of Commission XI of the House of Representatives (DPR), the pros and cons of the proposal should be studied. Such a subject needs wider public discourse and must not be implemented merely by issuing a circular.

He pointed out that the objective behind the idea may be good but it needs to be deeply studied by all stakeholders. Apart from the government, competent school representatives must also be involved because it will depend upon how ready are the human resources and students.

"Various aspects need to be considered before it is adopted as a public policy and implemented nationally," he noted.

Also, other aspects such as how tired the students will be during the long hours they will be spending in classes or in the school at large, the impact on their capacity to absorb lessons as also their stamina need to be studied.

"If the proposal for a full day school system is found feasible after all this assessment, the system should be implemented on a trial basis first," he suggested.

The trial-test will bring out the extent of its effectiveness. Besides, the government would not then face accusations of taking the decision in a hurried manner. "We do not want that after this system is implemented, the government finds it ineffective and then it has to be scrapped and forced to re-introduce the old system," he warned.

In the meantime, the regional government of Jakarta said it will conduct a study before moving ahead in this matter.

"The system is still being discussed. As of now, there is only a plan to apply it. We will study it first," Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama noted at the City Hall in Jakarta on Tuesday.

There are many obstacles before Jakarta can opt for it even if it wants to apply the system. It has a limited number of school buildings, and in many, the same building is used to run two different schools, according to Ahok, as the Jakarta governor is popularly called.

According to Minister Effendi, Vice President Jusuf Kalla has agreed to the full day school system but has suggested that it be put to a test first. "The vice president has agreed but has suggested that there should be a pilot project," Effendi informed on Monday.

"Actually, I was inspired by private schools to opt for the full day school," the former rector of Malang-based Muhammadiyah University underlined. The full day school system will give schools a lot of time to instill in the students character education as per President Joko Widodos Nawacita, a priority development program, he observed.

"We will try to create a school atmosphere that is conducive. If need be, we can invite ustads (religious teachers) to teach students how to read the Holy Quran," he emphasized.

He said the full day school system would not mean that students would be sitting in a classroom all through the day. Rather, this system will ensure that students are able to receive character education and have a wholesome personality.

"Full day school does not mean that students will study for the entire day in classrooms. Instead, it envisages participation in activities wherein they receive character education. These will include extracurricular activities. We are currently studying the issue deeply," the minister stated on Tuesday.

He added that he was studying the inputs given by the public, including social and geographical conditions in which the new system can be put into place. An ideal way to start will be to introduce in regions where a number of working parents reside who cannot spend much time at home.

Conditions should be conducive to such a system. Formal studies could take up half a day, and the rest of the time can be claimed by extracurricular cavities.

"After attending the classes, students should not go home immediately but should join extracurricular activities designed to help them in forming a desirable personality and ideal character traits besides helping them develop their unique potentials," he explained.(*)

Reporter: Andi Abdussalam
Editor: Heru Purwanto
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