The Concept of Value in Education

In my opinion, value is a special message embedded in education. It may consciously or unconsciously transferred from those who are in power to students or those who have less power. As education is not an isolated function (Mittler, 2000), value in education reflects the condition of society.

The history of education and its value in Indonesia may be as far back as Netherland’s colonialism. At that time, education, which only accessible for upper class people, promoted western concepts and way of life. National value was socialised to be negative in order to strengthen Dutch’s power. Around the time of Indonesian independence, an Indonesian educator, Ki Hajar Dewantara, established an education system which was called ‘freedom system’ because its value was independence; ability to be obedient but autonomous (Takwin, 2010). It reflects the high level of nationalism because at that time Indonesia was pursuing and maintaining its independence. In the late 1960s, the system was substituted by a curriculum that stresses on conformity. Governed by an authoritarian leader, differences were seen as inappropriate; and people’s freedom was once again robbed, now by their own nation kin.

Since Indonesian reformation in 1998, educational environment has been unstable. People’s regained freedom creates new and various values that people want to attach to education. However those values are defeated by the largest problem faced by Indonesia, economy. According to Indonesian vice president, Boediono (2012), education is a strategic sector used to prepare future workers in getting their skills in science and technology. The statement implies that education is a mean to get skills and diplomas in order to get good jobs which ends in good payment and higher tax income to increase national economic power. Despite the government’s need of educated people, politicians inside the government devalue people who have higher education degree. It is shown by some politician’s statement that people who study abroad are thieves (Febriyan, 2012) and that people who graduated from high-rank national university are corruptors (Andhika, 2012). Government’s treatment towards people with higher education degree creates confusion about how the government values education.

Tracing back to the history of Indonesian education, I think most education systems, except the freedom system, has brought values that devalue students as human beings by using them to fulfill the needs of those who have power. Indonesian perspective about education is almost the same as what Freire (1996) called as “banking concept of education” or what Lipman (2009) called as “economizing of education” which sees men as objects. In my opinion, education should not be used as a ‘machine’ to give more power to powerful people; it should be used as a strategy to distribute the power in order to empower all people. The value of education should be attempted to humanize human; regarding people not as objects of civilization system but actors who transform the civilization.

Mar 07, 2013

“If situations cannot be created that enable the young to deal with feelings of being manipulated by outside forces, there will be far too little sense of agency among them. Without a sense of agency, young people are unlikely to pose significant questions, the existentially rooted questions in which learning begins.”

 

Maxine Greene

The Dialectics of Freedom, 1988