National exams in Indonesia hanging in the balance

By Margareth S. Aritonang | Source: ANN
In spite of a pledge from Education and Culture Minister Mohammad Nuh that all materials would arrive on time for the start of the second stage of Indonesia’s national exam today, several regions are braced for another delay.

Nuh told a press briefing on Wednesday that with assistance from the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police, by Wednesday afternoon, exam materials had arrived in the 11 provinces that failed to start the national exam on Monday.

“Several regencies and municipalities may not have received the shipment yet, but we are doing our best to make sure that the exam will take place simultaneously tomorrow. I am confident that we will have the exam in the 11 provinces,” Nuh said on Wednesday.

More than 1.1 million students from 5,109 high schools in Bali, East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara, South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, Gorontalo, North Sulawesi, West Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi and Central Sulawesi failed to sit the exams on Monday because printing company PT Ghalia Indonesia Printing, which won a tender to print and distribute exam materials for the 11 provinces, failed to meet the deadline for delivery.

As a result of the delay in shipment, the ministry has decided to relieve PT Ghalia of some of its role in printing and distributing materials for the junior high school national exam that is scheduled to begin on Monday next week.

PT Ghalia is now only handling the printing and shipping of materials for Bali.

The ministry also pledged that it would conduct a special investigation to look for irregularities that could have taken place during the tender process involving PT Ghalia.

The Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (FITRA) has alleged that the tender for the printing and distribution of exam materials could have been marred with irregularities.

According to FITRA, PT Ghalia Indonesia Printing, which won the tender for the 11 provinces, offered the highest price for the project and should not have won the tender.

In spite of the deployment of military resources, officials in several regions were pessimistic that exams could be started today, given the shortage of exam materials.

Purnama Megati, head of the Education, Youth and Sports Agency in Poso, Central Sulawesi, told The Jakarta Post that the exam would likely be delayed again in the area because as of Wednesday afternoon his office had only received shipments of five out of the total 15 packages of materials.

“I have told my superior to inform the Education and Culture Ministry in Jakarta about the problem. We can’t do anything until we get information from Jakarta,” he said.

In Gorontalo, many schools received less material than they had expected and had to trade with other schools in the region.

The chairman of the national examination committee in the area Hamzah Yunus said that in total Gorontalo needed 15 more packages.

In some areas, materials were either incomplete or damaged including those for English, Math, Indonesian Language, and Anthropology.

Head of the Gorontalo Education Agency Ben Idrus said that he had instructed schools in the province to help each other in preparation of the national exam to prevent a chaotic situation today.

Damaged exam materials were also found in Badung, Bali.

Local officials said that some of the question and answer sheets were torn. Badung Education Agency received more than 16 tons of packages, which arrived by air on Wednesday afternoon.

Major Erwin Arfansyah from the Air Force, who was in charge of the delivery to Bali, said that the material was already in bad shape before they were loaded onto the military planes.

Erwin said that workers from PT Ghalia gave them substandard materials at the Halim Perdana-kusuma Military Airbase in East Jakarta.

In spite of problems affecting the high school national exam, Nuh pledged that junior high school students would not experience a repeat of the situation.

Nuh said that materials for junior high school students had been shipped from Monday this week and are expected to arrive soon.

“We have started to ship the materials to remote areas. We are optimistic that the exam will still commence on Monday,” Nuh said.