Do We Really Need an Alternative Education for the Young to Grow Intellectually and Socially Healthy?

Finding good education for the young right now is not an easy job. Although more and more schools with better facilities have been established recently, they to our sadness are only to serve a small portion of society who is economically viable and established. For a great number of parents, therefore, public schools, which offer more reasonable tuitions are still their first choice; regardless of their poor quality of teaching, facilities, managements, and academic performance.

Do We Really Need an Alternative Education for the Young to Grow Intellectually and Socially Healthy?
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“School choice is in this country unfortunately only a privileged right of a small advantaged group of society. Only the haves had a choice for their kid education whilst a great number of families were given no alternatives, but to accept any picked and available schools for their kids". 
It is true that there are now significant a number of public schools have shown quality education, yet they are not fully able to cater to the needs of the medium and low-income families who dream of good education for their children. Furthermore, a lot of public schools, which have achieved high honor roll status in terms of academic programs, have now become elite, exclusive, and expensive schools. As results, quality education, to great number of Indonesian families is only a wish and an unreachable point.

Despite all of those shortcomings, we are as law-abide citizens unfortunately still not given enough room to manage educational programs for the young based on our aspirations, needs, and interests. Homeschooling, for instance, is considered as an alternative for better education for the kids, which is now a common phenomenon in the country, is not yet recognized. As a result, when we are attempting to homeschool a child, he/she will most likely be in trouble in the future as he/she enters formal education due to its questionable legal status.

In the U.S. and Canada , homeschooling has been legalized and accommodated in their school system. For parents who want to homeschool their children the school district by law has the obligation to provide parents with the necessary things to help them carry the educational program at home. The school district will provide the right curriculum along with books, and other teaching facilities. Parents are also entitled to have their children get tested by the schools when they need the academic credential and recognition at any level the children have achieved.

The idea of homeschooling in the U.S. was first introduced to respond to the societal needs of school choice. Public school system was then considered unable to properly carry out its main mission providing the youngsters with a safe and healthy environment so that they could develop their intellectual, social, and spiritual competencies. People became skeptical and almost loss of confidence to public school system came up with this new idea of educating the young at homes.

Here, home schooling is a new phenomenon. Although the condition for the society to exercise their right of school choice has become apparent due to the failure of governments to provide quality education to every child and create schools as the safe place for them to grow; an alternative education, is unfortunately still beyond the ministry of education agenda.

There is still a perception in the mainstream Indonesian culture that a child receives his only opportunity for socialization through a school environment. This, in fact, is not always true. On the contrary, home-schooled children may actually increase opportunities for positive types of socialization. This in turn leads to a more rounded and socially matured child.

In this day and age where gang problems, increased peer group pressures, smoking cigarettes, drugs, crime, and other violence actions are an ever-increasing problem in public and private schools; it is even important for a decent parent to pick and choose for his child’s social experiences. For responsible and decent parents, one of the most important educational tasks to convey to their children is the necessary skill to enter what we called a good life. Parents need to teach children the required skills, knowledge, and manners in order for them to be successful in this life. One of the methods to attaint this important goal is to provide them with appropriate social experiences.

Homeschooling actually frees up valuable time for the parents to provide these experiences. In a homeschooling schedule, parents have the freedom to schedule and plan educational, social, and religious activities without the interference of a set school schedule. Rigidity is a common problem in the school system where parents may have to negotiate with the school in order to provide religious experiences for their children during school time. For example, for male Muslim children over the age of seven attending Friday prayer with their father can be both a religious duty and opportunity for important father-son bonding. “While this task is easily accomplished for the child who is homeschooled it can become a real obstacle for the parents of a public school child,” said Maysoon Zaza in her article The Great Homeschooling Myth.

Another perception is that children who are homeschooled do not attend classes. This is away from the truth for the typical creative child. Often time this child will either receive tutoring in foreign languages from native teachers or attend math and computer classes offered by private institutions. Furthermore, many homeschooled children attend a variety of classes that can range from swimming, cooking, to enrichment science program at private institutions. The key is to shop around to find opportunity class and experience that meets our child educational needs and interests. Furthermore, these specialized types of classes and skills are usually not available to the public school student. For example, swimming and archery are very good sports for children to learn. Not many public schools include those sports as a part of their curriculum.

Other types of socialization opportunity available for homeschooled children include activities with local youth groups at the Mosques, Churches or other religious and community organizations. Active participation provides children with invaluable skills in leadership and teamwork, which will benefit them in the ‘real world of work’. More importantly this helps create a stronger community. Active participation within a youth group begins a lifetime of active participation within the community. 

Homeschooling can incorporate youth group activities such as working in community program like PKK, Pramuka, Karang Taruna, helping sick people without family, and organizing clothing and food drives for the needy. These are just a few examples of activities that homeschooled children can participate in which brings a sense of accomplishment and contributes to the process of becoming responsible citizens. If this program can help to promote and develop responsible kid who can later on be a great constributor, not a threat, to the community; then, why should our educational bureaucrats so reluctantly recognize it?

By Syamsir Alam,

The Learning Institute, Jakarta

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