It has been widely known that Finland is the country with the best education system in the world. It is proven from the result of Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test which shows that Finland students achieve either the first or the second place, beating other students from many countries. Indonesia, however, is in the 57th place. This discrepancy must have something to do with the education system in both countries. What makes Finland students perform better than Indonesian students? There are three factors that affect the system of education in Finland and Indonesia, which are the society, the school hours, and the teachers.
The fact that Indonesia is a plural country is one of the factors which affect its education system. Indonesia consists of thousands of races, cultures, and religions which dwell in different parts of the country. If New York City is called as Melting Pot, the same term may fit Indonesia as well. The number of immigrants in Indonesia is also high. Data from Badan Pusat Statistik show that every year, the number of immigrant increases. This makes the society become more and more plural and it may affect the education system. How? Pluralism creates different perspectives in education, social conflicts between social groups, and many others. In comparison with Indonesia, Finland has very low level of immigrants. Only 3.8% of its people are foreigners. The rest are native Finland, so social conflicts among different groups are very few. In this kind of peaceful society, the students do not have to deal with major social conflicts. They live in homogenous society. Unlike Indonesians, they are similar in many ways to each other.
The second point of differences is the school hours. Indonesian students spend a lot of time at school, from early morning to late afternoon. Even after that, additional lesson might still be given to the students, which means that the students need to spend some more hours at school. Indonesian students spend seven hours a day in school. This is one of the causes of depression among Indonesian students. Because they feel depressed, they do not perform well in their studies. Now look at Finland students who spend very short time at school. Finland has the shortest school hours in the world, only around five hours a day. In that short term, they do not study in a way most Indonesians do. They do a lot of activities and the class atmosphere created by the teachers is friendly and casual. There is no pressure in learning. As a result, Finland students have desires to learn. The reduction of pressures should be done if Indonesia wants to have students who are keen to learning.
Finally, the main difference between Indonesian and Finland education system is the teacher. In Indonesia, teachers are not highly respected. Some people even look down at teachers because they think being a teacher is not a promising job. Unfortunately, it is not indeed. Some teachers do not even get good salary although they have worked very hard. In some places, especially in the remote ones, teachers only get around 200 until 300 thousand rupiah per month. The amount is far below the regional minimum wage. How can education in remote places be good if nobody wants to go there? And how can people go there if their lives are not even supported? The opposite happens in Finland. Teaching is a very prestigious job there. Teachers are highly respected and teaching is done professionally. The teachers are selected from the top ten universities and only ten percent of them can finally be teachers. They also have to undergo various trainings before they are placed in classrooms. By all these requirements and procedures, the quality of the teachers is not necessarily questioned. Teacher is one of the factors which make Finland education become the best in the world. If only Indonesians value their teachers more, the quality of education, I believe, will get better.
Those three aspects above are only some of many factors that make Finland education better than that of Indonesia. Just like the city of Rome which was not built in a day, Finland’s success in their education is also a long process. It takes many years, people, policies, and considerations to contribute. Indonesian education, however, is not all bad, but it does need to be fixed in many aspects, especially the one related to teachers. Things, like pluralism, are unchangeable, but the others are still possible. (Written by Yoel Prokhorus, a student of Atmajaya Catholic University, Jakarta)