The Education and Culture Ministry has once again become the target of criticism, this time over the poor quality of school textbooks for the 2013 curriculum, which was implemented this year, as well as late delivery of the materials.
Parents have complained that the textbooks, especially those for elementary school students, are poorly written.
Education observers have found that English texts in the books were written with the help of Google Translate, resulting in unintelligible sentences, rife with grammatical errors.
Recently, a state senior high school in Aceh filed a complaint with the ministry after a teacher found material about dating as well as information about free sex in the physical health textbook.
Soon afterward, parents found that one chapter of a senior high school textbook discussed possible efforts to establish an Islamic State of Indonesia (NII).
Muhammad Abduh Zen, an education expert from Jakarta-based Paramadina University, said that the errors reflected the incompetence of the Education and Culture Ministry and the authors commissioned to write the textbooks.
Abduh also said that some materials were not suitable for students' level of schooling.
"In fact, sometimes students receive textbooks that are too complicated for them to digest. There are still a lot of things that need to be fixed in school textbooks distributed by the ministry," Abduh said.
He said that the ministry or the textbook publisher should have assigned a team of well-qualified editors to oversee the publication of the materials.
Parents in several areas have also urged the ministry to take responsibility for the late delivery of the textbooks, as the materials had not arrived even three months into the new school year.
"I don't live far from Jakarta, but until now my son has yet to receive his textbook because his school said that it didn't have it yet. How can this possibly happen? They are already having their midterms now," Gunawan, the father of an elementary school student, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
He said that he had to ask a relative in Riau to buy the book before sending it to his home in Bogor, West Java to help his son prepare for the midterm exam.
Education expert Itje Chodijah said that the late delivery of the textbooks could psychologically affect students because they had no guidance as to what they would study in class.
She said that the books' late delivery and subpar contents resulted from the rush in which the 2013 curriculum was implemented.
"The curriculum was only drafted in less than a year. Producing a good-quality textbook requires a considerable amount of time," Itje said.
The ministry's inspector general, Haryono Umar, said however that all textbooks for the 2013 curriculum had undergone meticulous editing before they were distributed to schools throughout the country.