The Education and Culture Ministry is seeking a new approach to the much-criticized national examinations by bringing together teachers and education experts to review their current implementation.
"The convention is aimed at seeking an agreement regarding the exams' management, printing and distribution process, as well as to find a way to improve the quality of graduates. We also intend to form a new policy after gathering all the suggestions from the educational experts," Deputy Education and Culture Minister Musliar Kasim said on Thursday.
The government has insisted that the national examinations should be retained despite criticism that they put too much of a burden on students and that their implementation is potentially rife with corruption.
Teachers, education experts and politicians, including former vice president Jusuf Kalla who attended the convention at the Education and Culture Ministry, have recommended that the ministry overhaul the preparation of the exams to prevent glitches, which could disrupt the whole process.
"The national exams are needed to examine students' knowledge after studying for three years. Just because we had several technical glitches during this year's exam implementation doesn't mean that they should be abolished," Kalla said.
Musliar said the government was mulling a proposal to hand over the task of printing and distributing exam materials to regional administrations, to avoid distribution delays to remote areas.
The preparation of this year's national examinations, particularly those for senior high schools and vocational schools, was rife with irregularities. Around 1.1 million high school students failed to sit their exams as scheduled, after the printing company responsible for the country's central provinces, Ghalia Indonesia Printing that is located in Bogor, West Java, failed to meet its deadline to deliver the exam materials.
Last week, the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) announced that this year's national examinations caused potential state losses of Rp 6.3 billion (S$ 70400) due to the allegedly rigged tender for the printing and distribution of the materials.