Packing a School for Your Children

FOR at least the last ten years, school competition in Jakarta has been growing fiercer every year. Education becomes a profitable industry for local and foreign investors. Public, private, and international schools are vying to be the best school in town, even in the country. Some schools focus on the quality of their teachers, some enhance their course materials and learning system, and others rely on state-of-the-art school facilities for their students.   Certainly, we cannot pinpoint any of these focuses is better than the other.

Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, and may individually or collectively uncover their students’ hidden potentials and talents. So many options for parents in Jakarta to school their children, making it easier for them to decide which school will suit their children’s talent and interest best.  

Some tips in choosing a perfect school for your children:

First, explore the interests and talents of your children, and then direct their talents to their wishes. Parents must know their children thoroughly before opting for a school for them to attend to. Please persuade them to go to a school that can flourish their talents and interests, although it may go against what the children have in mind.  

Second, find a school that suits your children’s interests and talents. After recognizing their children’s truest talents, parents should pick a school that can harness them into accomplished students through the exploration and exploitation of their talents.  

Third, go for a strategic school location to accommodate easy access to good education, as school distance may affect the efficacy of learning process and the physical and mental health of the students.  

Fourth, look for conducive school neighborhood. Environment plays a great deal in the development of children, and so does the neighborhood of the school where your children go to. Parents should mind such a factor for the sake of their children.  

Fifth, pick a school with complete facilities, competence-based curriculum, quality tutors, and well-proven learning methods, such as active learning method. Conduct an observation to decide which schools offer them all.  

Sixth, keep track of schooling frequency and intensity. Parents should pay attention to the intensity and frequency of learning process at the school, as heavy study loads and tight schedule might demoralize the students, which then cause them to attend school ineffectively and in vain.  

Seventh, prepare what your children need from the early stages, including saving tuition fund in educational saving accounts. Plan the financial future of our children’s education to prevent them from dropping out, only because we cannot provide their school tuitions. Such an incident would embarrass the children and affect their mentality to go back to school.  

Parent’s testimonial

When she was asked about her opinion regarding public, private, and international schools, Rini Setiawati, 55, a single parent of Willy who is schooled at a private school Budi Mulia Junior High, said, “Nowadays, national private schools have been surpassed by international schools, whereas, private schools were regarded to better public schools in terms of school facilities, learning system, and more modern programs. Public schools who rely on national education materials are the best school in their compliancy to the national education system, starting from their enrollment tests to graduation are hard to get by.  

Unfortunately, public schools’ students are forced to tackle thick textbooks to answer questions, but not taught to be creative and innovative with self-confidence and self-reliance to shine academically, personally, and socially. While international schools with their world-class facilities and western learning system who address more to each student’s individual potentials may promise better advancement for their students in the future, but their exorbitant tuitions forced me to school my boy at national private school.”  

Another viewpoint came from Caroline, the mother of Max, a student of an international school, Jakarta Montessori School, who said, “I think what makes every international schools better than any national school is because in international school we using english as basic language and of course the methods or schools programme and also the culture of diversity in international school makes us different than national school and national plus school. For instance, according to the Montessori system children are fully capable of self-directed learning with the teacher observing and guiding the child’s learning experience and introducing new materials and avenues of learning as appropriate.   

Moreover, children are not, as is common in most schools, segregated into strict age groups. Rather with students encouraged to teach and help each other, younger children are able to learn from the experiences of their slightly older contemporaries. This encourages a powerful sense of pride in learning, and means the child can learn at the pace that best suits their needs.” In the final analysis, Caroline said, “Any parent is most interested in how well their child learns while at school.  While using both the National Curriculum of Indonesia and National Curriculum of the United Kingdom, the introduction of Montessori programs means that children are oftentimes several years ahead of their desired learning outcomes of their grade level.”  

Talking about the competitive edge of a school will be closely related to its learning system. Some schools apply “discovery learning,” which is a program for students in their early ages to develop inherent aptitude of information-seeking, since every human being has strong curiosity to find out about anything around him or her in their childhood. Some provide “high-tech programs” that concentrate on the latest technology in pedagogy for the benefit of their students. Each of the learning system has their own advantages and drawbacks, but the question is, are the programs offered by the schools effective for their students in the future?  

Thomas, 24, a graduate of an information technology school who works as a private teacher for elementary and high school students, stated, “The efficacy of offered programs in Indonesian schools is highly unmeasurable, because almost all of students in Indonesia cannot match their talents and interests with the available programs. Almost all of them felt that they had no other choice. The circumstance also happens because there is no talent guide at Indonesian schools, unlike what US schools have, where the guide can recommend certain programs for the students according to their peculiar talents.”  

The efficiency also depends on the adaptability of the schools to the development of the world. What used to be a sound program may not be usable in present or future times. So, to yield effective programs, schools must be able to predict students’ future needs, based on present talents and interests of each student. (William Xue)  

Jakarta Globe, March 26, 2010

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