Despite the Final Examination has a reasonable goal for education in Indonesia, it brings some controversy neither for its goal nor the avail. The government via the Ministry of Education insists that a national examination is still needed for Indonesian education to maintain the quality and to set up the national standard for senior high schools. The goal of the national examination sounds nice and reasonable but the practice has long been criticized. Last year, the national examination brought about controversies on the score conversion, which was considered not transparent.
On more fundamental bases, the educational practitioners criticize the exam too. The big question is “what for?” Do we need a national examination to improve the quality of education? Anyway, the government has promoted school-based management that promotes the autonomy of schools so that in the future each school has a root in the society and meets the demand of the society. Further, then, each school has their own identity with its own uniqueness and excellences. This management system has been developed to answer the problems of a centralized educational system, applied since the New Order. The national examination, in this case, is not in line with the policy of school-based management.
A national standardized test is one way to control the quality of education. The problem is that it determines whether the students pass a certain level of education or not. The schools have no authority and the government does not trust the schools. Passing a certain level of education, senior high school, is the right of the schools. The schools and the teachers know best their students. Why should the government burdens themselves with such a responsibility? A national standardized test is O.K. as far is it is meant to control the quality of the schools, but not determining the students’ fate.
What a pity! The high school world is a real scary world full of tests. Anyway, a test, a national examination, is a big business, both in terms of the scope and the money spending for it. Whenever the government has not changed their view on education as a whole, the business will go on.