The OECD report placed Indonesia second behind the highest scorer Denmark, trumping more developed countries such as South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Germany, and the United States, which scored ‘below average’ in the point system. The report measured innovations at the classroom and school levels in the primary and secondary education of 24 countries in 2000-2011.
But local educators say the findings are in sharp contrast with another OECD study just last year, the 2013 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which rated Indonesian students as the second-lowest performers in math and science.
Stephan Vincent-Lancrin, the report’s lead author, defines innovation in education either as a new and emerging method that has not been used before or an old practice that has changed significantly, such as using textbooks as primary source and parental participation. Indonesia performed better on the latter.
“The key finding of the report for Indonesia is that a lot has been going on there in primary and secondary education in the past decade — much more than in most other countries covered,” Lancrin tells SciDev.Net.
Some of Indonesia’s education innovations he cited include the increasing use of textbooks in classrooms, and more parental participation, assessments and grouping by student ability.
The report also cites how some educators were relating secondary school lessons to everyday life, like using more observation and description in secondary school science lessons and improving the explanations taught in secondary mathematics.
Aji Raditya, an education practitioner and content developer of PT Kandel in the Surya Institute, a private Indonesian institution that focuses on science and education, says he is “curious” about the findings of the 2014 OECD report.
“I have travelled to secondary schools in Indonesia and I see teachers still using the traditional approach — teachers teach and pupils listen. I think there has been no innovation especially in remote areas,” Raditya tells SciDev.Net.
He also asks, if the classrooms and the teachers have been innovative enough in the past decade, why have students performed worse last year?
“Teachers and classrooms are the input, and the performance of students are the output. Both should have the same result,” he notes.
“Innovation is not an end but a means to an end. Scoring high on innovation does not mean that you have a great performance in learning outcomes, but it certainly shows that you are dynamic,” says Lancrin.
He adds, “These innovations can be replicated in other developing countries because pedagogy or teaching is a technology although the cultural element may play a role.”
Link to the OECD report, Measuring Innovation in Education
This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's South-East Asia & Pacific desk.