ASEAN Economic Community, are We Ready?


That question popped out throughout the seminar session I attended. The seminar, held by UNNES and TEFLIN on May, 20th 2017, was very interesting. The speakers, Mr Fuad Abdul Hamied, P.h. D and Mrs Dra. Itje Chodijah, M.A were both inspiring people. The way they delivered their materials, similar but not same, was very clear. However, the content of the materials was, well, let's say very sad.

The seminar was about the important of English in the era of ASEAN Economic Community. From Mr Fuad, I got lots of information regarding the importance of English to ASEAN countries, so important than several countries state that mastering English is their aim in near future. It was so important that mastering English is put into their Education Law/Act. Many ASEAN countries did get help from the colonisation era when they were under British reign. The people of those countries were/are very familiar with English. Therefore, when English will eventually become the ASEAN language, these countries are ready because their citizens are exposed to English from very early age (4th grade) and some of them actually use TOEIC and TOEFL IBT as the measurements of the students' English ability. (Mr Fuad).

With this current issue about English becoming the future ASEAN language, English teachers surely have a very important role in creating better generations who are ready to face it. (Mrs. Chodijah). English teachers' most important quality is commitment. If a teacher commits in her/his job, then no matter what curriculum is, how long the time allocations are, how complicated the materials are, no matter what, she/he will somehow manage to overcome these issues. 

Indonesian education ranks 69 of 77 countries in the world, despite being the 3rd and 10th in economy-wise. Today, Finlandia's position as the number 1 is replaced by Singapore. Indonesia ranks even lower than Ethiopia. With this reality, teachers' job becomes very tough and difficult.

If the ASC happens now, then it goes without saying that Indonesia has not ready at all. The quality of our young generations is much lower than those from another ASEAN countries. In addition, the low quality of our English teachers adds the problem country has to face. The low quality of our teachers mainly causes by the unwillingness to improve in teaching. Mrs Chodijah said that many of teachers in the age of 50-up seldom join any teacher trainings. Their reason, which is similar, is "Why bother to join? There's no point. We're old already.". This kind of answer is very shameful. "Long live education" quote, that teachers always use in motivating their students, seems to be uttered only without any further willingness and actions.

Teachers in Indonesia will be released from duty when they reach 60 years old. They have 10 years to teach the young generation to be much better than the previous generation. Even ONE year is very important. The awareness to improve and learn more is lacking in our teachers' heart and mind. This awareness should be introduced in university, the teacher making institute. The role of lecturers in introducing, motivating and implementing this principle is very significant because lecturers are the ones who create and produce teacher.

In conclusion, to improve the quality of our young generation, the cooperation among teachers as the learning facilitators and lectures as teachers creators is very important. However, the most important thing above all is the commitment of a teacher to always do the best they can and also do a reflective teaching to make sure that our young generations will be ready to face the challenge in the future.

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