The parents of a sixth-grader at a South Jakarta elementary school have filed a complaint claiming the school provided students with answers to the national exams prior to testing in May.
The parents allege the school, identified as State Elementary School (SDN) No. 6 Pesanggrahan, initially provided answers to a handful of students, then had them distribute the answers to the rest of the student body by cellphone. These efforts, the parents told the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas Anak), involved their own son, identified only as M.A.P.
Commission chairman Arist Merdeka Sirait said the complaint was filed on Saturday.
“We believe there is evidence of systematic fraud,” he told the Jakarta Globe on Sunday.
“Additionally, we believe this not only occurred at M.A.P.’s school, but at others as well.”
He said his office would investigate the case, but even if the allegations proved to be true, it would not impose punishments.
“It’s not fair if the school helped its students cheat during the national exams,” Arist said. “But [the Education Ministry is] not demanding that the guilty parties be punished.”
He stressed, however, that the allegation undermined the credibility of the exams themselves.
Winda Lubis, M.A.P’s mother, told the Globe on Monday that she found out about the systematic cheating when her son returned home crying after the first day of the exams.
“He told me his teacher had told him and three other students to give the exam answers to the other students during the test,” she said.
“However, they were told not to tell anyone about this, including their parents.”
She said that after learning about this, she had tried to file a complaint at one of the posts set up by the Education Ministry for that very purpose.
“When I tried to call the first time, there wasn’t any response. The second day, an office boy answered and said the complaint post was closed because it was set up to accommodate reports of cheating in the junior and senior high school exams,” Winda said.
“So I reported the case to Komnas Anak because that was the only alternative.”
However, Taufik Yudi Mulyanto, head of the Jakarta Education Office, told the Globe that the complaint had been noted.
“We first received the complaint [on Friday] and we have already followed up on it,” he said.
“But we haven’t found any evidence [to support the allegations]. Even if we do, we don’t know yet what we’ll do about it.”
Bambang Wisudo, executive director of the nongovernmental group Schools Without Borders, said it was a shame that teachers were fostering a culture of cheating among young students.
He also said that requiring sixth-graders to take exams to proceed to junior high school placed undue pressure on them.
“The national exams can destroy the children at a basic level because the standardization of the tests is flawed and the implementation can force students to cheat,” he said.
“Instead of being forced to take the exams, the children should be allowed to develop based on their interests.”
Winda said she had gone public with the issue because she believed that cheating at such a young age posed a moral danger to the country’s children.
“I know there are many potential risks that I’ve exposed my son to by revealing this case, but I just care about my children’s education,” she said.
“To develop the nation on the basis of a smart work force means nothing if that work force lacks morals. We need to nurture honest people.”