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Minister of Education and Research presents Merdeka Belajar at the World’s Largest Education Ministers Forum

Jakarta – In a series of working visits to Europe, Minister of Education, Culture, Research and Technology Nadiem Makarim fulfilled the invitation of the British government to attend the Education World Forum (EWF) which took place on May 7-10, 2023.

The Minister was one of the speakers at Panel Session 1 along with Jaime Saavedra, Global Director of Education, World Bank; Fayval Williams, Minister of Education and Youth of Jamaica; and Colin Hughes, Director of Assessment and Qualification Alliance (AQA).

In front of ministers and delegates from 180 countries, Minister Nadiem explained the vision and mission, good practices, and achievements of Merdeka Belajar as a transformative policy in the field of education launched by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Starting from the awareness of the learning situation that still needs a lot of improvement, then exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Education and Research presents Merdeka Belajar with the aim of improving the quality of the education system and making the learning process a pleasant experience for students in Indonesia.

“To create lifelong learners, we need to make learning interesting and fun for our children,” explained Minister Nadiem, as quoted in the Ministry’s release in Jakarta, Wednesday (10/5/2023).

Furthermore, the Minister explained three major breakthroughs driven through Merdeka Belajar. First, replacing subject-based exams with the National Assessment (AN) which emphasizes the process of developing students’ literacy and numeracy skills and critical thinking skills. In addition, AN also underlines the commitment of education units to become a learning environment free from bullying, intolerance, and sexual violence.

The second breakthrough is to present the Merdeka Curriculum, which can be implemented by education units voluntarily. “If previously it took five to seven years to implement the new curriculum, this time we did it in a different way, offering it to schools to be implemented as needed and voluntarily. In just one and a half years, eighty percent of the total education units in Indonesia registered to implement the Merdeka Curriculum,” Minister Nadiem explained.

The Merdeka Curriculum reduces learning content by 30-40% to emphasize in-depth learning, allocates 20% for project-based learning, and provides flexibility for teachers to set the pace of the learning process according to the needs and abilities of students.

The third transformation relates to the tertiary level through changes to the admission mechanism. The change from subject-based tests to aptitude tests has transformed learning at the secondary level to be more holistic. “We are removing subject-based tests for student admissions and linking them to learning at the school level,” Nadiem explained, emphasizing the holistic transformation of the education system.

At the Education World Forum event which took place at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, Minister Nadiem also explained about the transformation of Merdeka Belajar which focuses on improving teacher competence. Transformation is carried out for pre-teacher education to focus more on skills that are relevant to practice, not just limited to theory. Meanwhile, the Guru Penggerak program, which aims to give birth to a new generation of principals and supervisors, does not solely focus on competence.

“Guru Penggerak are teachers who are able and willing to take risks, innovate, and understand the fundamental philosophy of education,” said Minister Nadiem.

Furthermore, Minister Nadiem emphasized the Ministry’s commitment to improving students’ literacy and numeracy competencies through specific and targeted interventions. This is realized through the Teaching Campus program which has sent more than 90 thousand students to become co-teachers in improving the foundation skills of students at the elementary and junior high school levels. The second intervention was carried out by sending 15 million copies of reading books to PAUD and SD with low literacy scores based on AN results. “It is a joy to see that schools in the 3T areas now have libraries and students are eager to read,” the Minister explained.

On the same occasion, Nadiem Makarim also explained the use of digital technology to accelerate the transformation of the education system. The platforms designed by the Ministry of Education and Research, including Rapor Pendidikan, SIPLah, and Merdeka Mengajar, are presented to encourage massive change through improving the quality of education unit management.

Ending his presentation, Mendikbudristek shared three learning points obtained from the implementation of Merdeka Belajar over the past three years. First, holistic transformation must involve interventions in all aspects of the education system and alignment of learning from early childhood, primary, secondary, to higher education levels. Second, transformation must involve community participation and empower stakeholders in the education sector, because the key to the sustainability of change is a joint movement. Third, the use of digital technology in transformation must aim to support and assist teachers in improving the quality of learning.

“Providing freedom to teachers to work and bringing freedom to students to learn is the key to the success of education transformation,” said Minister Nadiem. (Photo Source: doc. InfoPublik)

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