EULC and Reading Materials: Some Notes

Sunu Wasono University of Indonesia Abstract This paper discusses reading materials and mandatory books in accordance with Education Unit Level Curriculum (EULC). There are three issues that need to be underlined. First, EULC gives schools an opportunity to design their own curricula. EULC must be supported by textbooks such as literary anthologies. Third, the standard of competence and basic competence stipulated by the National Board of Education Standard should not be used as the only reference in designing curriculum since it is not without weaknesses. Keywords: curriculum, reading materials, textbooks, local content. /1/ The problems of education, in particular a curriculum, have been an endless debate for years which still reveals the fact that Indonesian people feel unhappy with the results of education in Indonesia. In addition, the society expects qualified graduates, meaning that they must have wide and in-depth knowledge and this is what Mochtar Lubis recorded in 1989.1 The above expectation of the society has not been fulfilled yet up to the present time. For that reason, the society has kept on discussing education and the government has always tried to continuously improve the educational curricula through various policies although the society never stops reacting and commenting on the policies. As soon as the policy and change related to that matter take place, the people express their relevant opinions on their own way. For example, when CBC (Competence-based Curriculum) was introduced to schools, various comments on the policy from those who agreed and opposed appeared. “Changing a minister means changing a regulation” is a common expression we hear from the society. From the scholars, there was a critical opinion regarding the problem. Drost, a priest and a public figure in education, stated that CBC did not exist, but a competence-oriented curriculum did. He seems to prefer using ‘oriented’ to the word ‘based’ with his argument that, “ a curriculum as a tool in a learning process does not have a base, foundation.”2 He further argues that the definition of CBC is certainly confusing and even questions the word competence itself: Is it for whom, for teachers or students?3 Regardless the appropriate use of the word or terminology, CBC has existed. The society has associated this expression with a joke regarding the abbreviation of C (competence) is changed with C (confusion) and CBC stands for Confusion-based Curriculum. This shows and even sthrengthens the existence of CBC itself.4 However, CBC has disappeared or at least the society has forgotten it temporarily, because at present there is a new curriculum, called EULC (Education Unit Level Curriculum). This short article discusses literary materials and teaching materials


(text books) in connection with EULC. The Competence Standard and Basic Competence which are some important parts and cannot be separated from EULC will be also focused. The presentation of KTSP will start the depiction and this will be followed by the analysis of EULC content, especially that connected to the teaching of literary materials in Indonesian Language lessons and other books related to EULC. A conclusion and sound necessary suggestions will end the article. /2/ EULC is an abbreviation of Education Unit Level Curriculum5 which is actually an operational curriculum designed and implemented by each school.6 The objectives of EULC are (1) to improve the education quality through the school independence and initiatives in developing the curriculum, managing and empowering resources available; (2) to increase the care of the school and the society in developing the curriculum with a concencus; and (3) to increase the competition among the education units on education quality to be achieved.7 The above explanation of the definition and objectives leads us to the point that each education unit is freely allowed to design its own curriculum in accordance with its capacity and the curriculum involves the society to actively participate in designing and developing it. Although the contents of EULC are not totally new – at least the last curriculum also invited the School Committee in the implementation of the education – it is undoubtedly clear that there is something new: the school is given a freedom to design its own curriculum and this did not exist in the previous curricula. A curriculum is usually a top-down approach and it is an obligation for the schools to implement the policy. The fact that each school has its own typicality creates obstacles and failure in the implementation of the curricula. The freedom given in the EULC should be considered as an opportunity for any parties involved in the educational processes, in particular those managing the schools. Therefore, initiatives, ideas, spirit of development, of progress, and of health competition are highly demanded from the teachers and headmasters. In addition, the society, reperesented by the School Committee, is required to actively share their ideas in order that the curriculum can be optiomally achieved. Generally and theoretically, EULC can be considered great because it consists of freedom and democracy, but its implementation is still a big question. Good concepts and ideas are not guaranteed to successfully take place. The successful achievement totally depends on several factors: human resources, facilities, school athmosphere and many others. Anything new – in particular a curriculum – takes time for its socialization. This new curriculum may cause some problems because it demands the change of how people think and the society must acknowledge the foundation of why this cussiculum must be implemented. This change is closely related to the political change in Indonesia. After the New Order regime has collapsed and the governmental systems have changed, we have entered the reform era. At present, the local governments are desentralized and more autonomous to manage their own areas. This spirit seems to have taken place in education, especially in designing and implementing the curriculum and has led local contents to be in it. The involvement of several elements, for example schools, students’ parents, experts, local cultural offices, and local public figures in designing it can cause a


problem if the spirit of the elements has not yet been well. It is true that designing a curriculum takes time and needs serious attention from the parties involved. It is highly expected that the elements do not become the pressure groups which finally lead to unhealthy financial problems, such as bribing. There are still other two factors that we have to criticize: the officially issued competence base and basic competence to which each education unit refres. In the Permendiknas (the Regulation of National Education Ministry) No. 24 in 2006, it is stated that the basic and middle education units can develop their curricula with the higher standard than what the government has officially decided. This implicitly has a minimal standard (of content and school leavers) which must be fulfilled by education units in designing the curriculum. In other words, the content of the curriculum designed by each education units have to fulfill the minimal standard officially issued by the Board of National Education Standard (BNES). It certainly can be a problem if the education unit provides the curriculum equal to what BNES has decided. In the context of teaching the Indonesian Language, particularly literary teaching materials, the competence base and basic competence formulated by BNES have some weaknesses. If the contents in the EULC are just moved into the curriculum designed by each education unit without any analytical ideas, what happened to the previous curricula can occur again, meaning that the students and teachers will face the same content from time to time. Apparently, what are presented in the Competence Standard and Basic Competence designed by BNES resembles with those covered in the CBC, and it looks even more a simplified version of the CBC. From what I have searched, I have not found anything new there. The following is one example that I have found regarding the fact that one topic is discussed several times or unclearly formulated in the Competence Standard and Basic Competence designed by BNES. First, in the Competence Standard and Basic Competence, the material for an old poetry is at the level of the fifth year Elementary School (items 5, 6, 7, and 8) at Semester II. The same material is actually used again at the level of the seventh year (Junior High School) at Semester I (item 8). In the Elementary School, the old poetry covers four components (listening, speaking, reading and writing). In the listening component (Basic Competence Item 5.2), the basic competence required is that the students are expected to read an old poetry at the children level with good fluency and correct intonation. The speaking component requires the students to produce the old poetry with good fluency and correct intonation reciprocally. In the reading component, the students are required to recite a children poem with good fluency and correct intonation reciprocally. Finally, the writing component requires the students to enable them to produce an interseting children poem with various themes (friendship, perseverance, obedience, and others). This leads us to the following question: Is it possible that the fourth-year Elementary School learners can respond producing a children poem reciprocally? As we know that poetry is originally a product of an oral tradition on the basis of spontaneity and improvisation to respond to something. In Malay society, poetry is not something new and this can be seen from the fact that the society –from children to adults – is good at responding to poetry. What about those who have non-Malay backgrounds? For the Javanese community, this case is not a big issue because they still have such indigenous poetry, called parikan. In this written tradition, writing a poem is not something easy to


do. Responding to poetry is more serious case. How about the fourth-year Elementary School learners? I am convinced that the teachers cannot give responds to poetry spontaneously! Some other questions are as follows: What is actually children poetry? Is it the one that children create or another about children? Why don’t we just simply use the word poetry in order to provide choices for the learners? What does reciting poem by children mean? Practically, it IS difficult to implement the program! For the Junior High School level, Competence Standard and Basic Competence, the poetry materials are taught at the fisrt semester (Item 8). The element 8.1 of the Basic Competence (in the writing component) requires the students to write a poem in accordance with the standard of writing poetry. If we compare it with what the sixth-year Elementary School students have to do, it is unquestionably clear that the demand (basic competence) is much easier because the Junior High students are just required to write a poem, while the Elementary School students must write, read and respond the poetry reciprocally. The above depiction shows that there is inconsistency in designing or deciding Competence Standard and Basic Competence. Furthermre, why such poetry is taught repeatedly in both levels? I agree that poetry should be taught at school, but it is not wise if the same type of poetry is taught in both levels of education because there are still many other types of literature which are neglected. The material of such poetry has already filled the slots for other types. Take mantra (magic incantation) which can be included in a type of old poetry as an example. This as other types, sonnet, ode, is not included in the teaching materials. Using syair (quatrain) at Junior High School level (Level IX, semester I, item 5) and gurindam (couplet) at Senior High School (Level XII, semester 2, item 14) can also be questioned. The levels of difficulties and types of literary forms should be considered as important factors. Siti Nurbaja novel, for example, was historically published earlier than the publication of Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk; however, it does not mean that Siti Nurbaja should be taught earlier than Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk. Kawan Bergelut is earlier than Antara Wilis dan Kelud or Robohnya Surau Kami, and Percikan Permenungan than Balada Orang-orang Tercinta. From the level of difficulties, the earlier forms are more complicated than the later ones; therefore, it would be wise if the later ones are taught earlier. In line with this, mantras and old poetry forms can be taught later after the lessons of rhymes of Sitor Situmorang, Hartojo Andangdjaja, Sutardji Calzoum Bachri or parodial rhymes of Taufiq Ismail have been discussed. Discussing Competence Base and Basic Competence implicitly deals with the core or ‘menu’ for teachers and learners and this leads us to pay attentian of the variety and presentations. What to eat after the main course should also be considered. At the level of Competence Standard and Basic Competence at the level of the fifth-year Elementary Scool students os Semester I, the learners are required to identify the elements of folklores that they have listened to. At semester II (item 5.2), such requirement is getting clearer, that is the learners are to identify the elements of a story (characters, theme, background) and it is possible for the fifth-year Elementary School students to identify the elements of a story. The question is whether it is necessary to do because the statements in the Competence Standard and Basic Competence drive the teachers or book writers to the literary criticism which can make the students uninterested in literary works, meanwhile


reading habits need to be reinforced to them. The Basic Competence should focus on what makes the learners interested in the story after they have listened to it, rather than stresses on the understanding of story elements and this will lead them to deal with the knowledge of the theme, message, charasters and backgrounds hurriedly because this case is a theory-based approach. They are much better to be introduced to the literary works, rather than the concepts themselves. Reading habits should be our priority, while the skills of story analyses can follow it. After the children have enjoyed reading Harry Potter, they will not try to search for the lessons or values for their lives. Therefore, it would be a good idea if we let them read the story books as our priority. Unclear statements are still found in Competence Standard and Basic Competence. For example, Competence Standard and Basic Competence for the sixthyear Elementary Students semester I item 4 (writing) states that: “To express ideas, feeling, and written information in a form, summary, dialogues and paraphrases.” Is it possible for someone to express his/her ideas or feeling in a form? Isn’t it better if it is stated to express ideas by creating, designing or completing a form? It will be clearer if it is presented in the Competence Standard to create or fill in a form. In another part of the curriculum, a number of sentences or expressions are considered to be inappropriate. Here are some instances: Understanding a discourse through the activities of listening to news (Competence Standard and Basic Competence of the seventh-year educational level, semester 1, item 1), Expressing (sic!) ideas and feelings through retelling activities (Competence Standard and Basic Competence of the seventh-year educational level, semester 1, item 6), Expressing thoughts, feelings, information and experience through responding a story and telephoning (Competence Standard and Basic Competence of the seventh-year educational level, semester 2, item10), and others. Some language problems also appear to be the problems. The word through should be changed by by in order to avoid confusion. The phrase in the form of which frequently occurs in the curriculum are sometimes used incorrectly and this can be changed with through; therefore, the formulation will sound much better. Another problem raises a question. At the Competence Base (aspects of listening), it is stated that: “Expressing responds to strory telling”, while at the Competence Base there are two items, stating that: “Responding to the activities of short story retelling”, “Explaining the connection of the short story background and social reality” (see Competence Standard and Basic Competence of the seventh-year educational level, semester 2, items 14; 14.1; 14.2). The question is what is actually the relationship between reading a short story and the background of the story? If we further analyse the curriculum, we will find more and more problems. If anything in Competence Standard and Basic Competence designed by BNES is used as the reference, this policy will cause new problems. For that reason, in accordance with the spirit in the EULC, it sounds wise if each unit level does not totally depend on the units in the curriculum. If Competence Standard and Basic Competence are used as the core reference, these must be improved to avoid confusion. /3/ The curriculum change from CBC to EULC will be equipped with the availability of a number of related books involving book writers and publishers although


EULC does not require the schools to use the books as the teaching materials. What kind of books matches the EULC? In my opinion, there will be a number of anthologies (short stories, poetries, dramas, essays, translated works, folks and the list of novels provided by schools in cooperation with book publishers and experts (editors) in order that the students can read and appreciate them. Those books will become the teaching and learning materials for literary subjects at schools and be brought by the students for classroom discussions with the condition that the books are suitable with the educational levels. Different educational levels should have different focuses. For the educational levels of SD (Elementary Schools) and SMP (Junior High School), the aspects of enjoyment should be the focus. At the SMA (Senior High School) level, students do not only enjoy reading the books, but they also have to start discussing certain aspects of what they have read. They will deal with certain issues in the literary works and then have to write their opinions and criticisms related to the reading materials. With their sound adequate reading experience, the students can compare related issues in the literary works and this will help them to compare how the writers of the works present their ideas. Various attitudes or certain characters the writers show in the works will gradually stay in the students’ minds. The next step is that after they have read the works and understood the models of essay writing (and of anthology) the students can write their opinions related in the forms of essays. This will influence the number of literary books at schools that the students and teachers can read and this will lead to the increase of their reading interests, which will reach the target to read at least 15 literary books. To maintain the reading interests, supporting facilities, such as availability of the books at the school library that the teachers and students can read – as well as well-ordered anthology – are necessary. Cutand-paste materials from newspaper and magazines, such as poetries or short stories, can also be used as learning materials. Other literary works which are limitedly produced by literary communities anywhere and can be selected and then published as an anthology for the teachers and teachers can be counted in as other sources for learning activities. Writers can be invited to school to recite and discuss their works. This activity can be a medium to introduce local contents, i.e. the human resources potential, so that the slots for mulok (local contents) is not only filled with indigenous languages or even with foreign languages, which are actually more of global contents. The way that the literary teaching and learning activities are proposed can be applied to how to use language which needs a number of readings is presented. We just decide what kind of language skills are taught to the learners. If they are expected to be skillful in writing various letters, copy-writing advertisements, and writing notices, related anthologies should be prepared for all. The question with which may come up is the one related to the roles of the teachers who take a great part in the teaching and learning processes. The most important thing is the availability of teaching and learning materials. Previously, the headmaster and teachers have to find textbooks appropriate with the teaching and learning purposes; however, at the moment the teachers working together with other participants helped by experts has to find the materials to be well designed as teaching and learning materials. As classroom facilitators and ‘guide’, the teachers are not supposed to dominate the classroom activities by presenting theories due to the fact that they are already available.


If the students are required to be able to write an invitation letter, the model of the letter can be just shown, so they can create it according to the model and in language learning, in particular writing, this imitating activity can be an appropriate way to learn.8 If they are expected to be able to change the naration in a novel to become a drama text, they are instructed to learn the model relevant with the learning objective. If they have to play a role in the novel, they can watch a video about the novel. When I joined Pusat Perbukuan (the Center for Books, an institution under the Department of National Education) to evaluate the books proposed to be textbooks for SMP and SMA, I found many textbooks which consisted of a lot of theories. Prior to the reading instruction, the book writers describe the basic concepts or various definintions and then the students are instructed to find the expressions which match the points previously explained. This presentation has repeatedly appeared in the following parts and such a presentation does not make students enjoy literary works. For a better picture, here is an example taken from a textbook for Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan (Vocational School), Level 1. Prior to the instruction of the lesson to recite a poem with the title “Pembaringan”, followed by answering a number of questions, the book writer describes the definitions of poems and their structures, such as diction, figure of speech, rhythm, typography, meaning and theme, feeling, tone and atmosphere, and message in depth.9 It is true that such explanations on terminologies are followed by examples, but that approach will not be effective due to unnecessary repetitions. In presenting drama material, the writer of the textbook begins the lesson with the depiction of what drama and its structure are, for instance, plot (exposition, crisis, climax, anti-climax, solution and ending), characterization (failed character, favorite character, antagonist), and dialogue. This presentation is followed by the questions for the learners to be answered with explanation (definition), for example, plot means …, the importance of the discussion prior to the performance is …, and so on. The discussion on the drama focusing on its intrinsic factors like the one of poetry is done on the next step.10 If the explanation on the concept or definition is done by presenting the literary works, the result will be different. Texts or literary discourse are really different from other types of texts. Literary texts are imaginative ‘products’ we should know and be closer to before we analyse them. A part from what I presented above, I also find some texts (discourses) in a textbook whose title I forget but it contains a discourse of deconstruction theory In my opinion this is inappropriate for the first-year of SMP students in semester 1, when they have just joined the school for several first days. I do not think that material is suitable for such students. Such cases and others I explained above should be well considered in designing textbooks in connection with the implementation of EULC. Using the anthologies of literary works is much better than using textbooks with such presentation described above. /4/ The above description leads me to sum up what I have discussed. The first is that EULC gives a room for any parties connected to the educational field to design and develop the curriculum in accordance with the strengths of each education unit. In line with this idea, the Standard Competence and Basic Competence (item D), especially for


Indonesian Language, must be reformulated due to its weaknesses. If the Competence Standard and Basic Competence designed by BNES become the reference, the outcomes may not be suitable with the one at which EULC is aimed. What is described in items A, B, dan C has provided a clear picture of how each education unit designs and develops a curriculum. Therefore, although Competence Standard and Basic Competence are the references for education units to design a curriculum, we must realize that the contents of the curriculum designed by each education unit should not exactly the same as Competence Standard and Basic Competence designed by BNES. If the Competence Standard and Basic Competence designed by BNES, and are already issued by the Minister of National Education, are the references for curriculum design -- meaning that curriculum minimum standard should be the same as the Competence Standard and Basic Competence designed by BNES, some revisions should be made to avoid unnecessary confusion. Since EULC gives opportunities for each education unit to decide the content of a curriculum, it should be taken that there is no regulation about the standard on the literary contents to be put in the curriculum. In line with the spirit of EULC, each education level is free to provide the literary materials as long as the objectives are inaccordance with the policy issued in item B. From its objective perspectives, any teaching materials given to the students should aim at enjoyment, spreading horizons, improving ethics, improving knowledge and language proficiency. The literary materials, thus, should cover all Indonesian literature and translated works, while the learning has to be emphasized on literary introductions.The students are involved in the activities related to literary works according to the coverage of Indonesian Language (listening, speaking, reading and writing). In other words, the focus is not the theories of literature, but the literary activities, such as reading (reciting) literary works, writing literary forms, and responding literary works. The students must not be given too much literature theories; on the contrary, practical activities (reading and writing) should be prioritized. For this purpose, a lot of readings must be available. Textbooks are certainly important, but their presentations should be different. The textbooks should be anthologies consisting of literary works (short stories, poetry, dramas) and various types of writings (essays, articles, book reviews, diaries) which the teachers and students can use at school or at home. The arrangements of literary works and anthologies should consider the levels of difficulties and be adjusted with the educational levels. Anthology will be a good material for the students in (learning) reading, writing and other literary activities.



Mochtar Lubis, Budaya, Masyarakat dan Manusia Indonesia: Himpunan Catatan Kebudayaan Mochtar Lubis di Majalah Horison (Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia, 1992), p. 256. 2 J. Drost, Dari KBK sampai MBS (Jakarta: Kompas, 2006), p. 3. 3 Ibid., p. 9. 4 We don’t only play around with the abbreviation KBK [CBC, ed.], we also mock the abbreviation CBSA (Cara Belajar Siswa Aktif/Active Learning). In Javanese, it is mocked as Cah Bodho Saya Akeh ‘stupid students increase’. 5 Because culturally we like to play around with abbreviation, it is possible that KTSP [EULC, ed.] will also be played as Kurikulum Tidak Siap Pakai (the curriculum that is not ready to use), Kurikulum Tanpa Sentuhan Pakar (the curriculum untouched by experts), or Kurikulum Tak Siapa pun Paham (the curriculum that nobody understands).
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E. Mulyasa, Kurikulum Tingkat Satuan Pendidikan (Bandung: Remaja Rosdakarya, 2006), p. 19-20. Ibid., p.22 8 Ismail Marahimin has applied this method for years to teach writing at FIB UI. This method can also be applied in techers’ workshop held by the Department of National Education. To get further information about this method, see Menulis Secara Populer by Ismail Marahimin (Jakarta: Pustaka Jaya, 2001).
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E. Kosasih, Pelajaran Bahasa dan Sastra Indonesia (Bandung: Yrama Widya, 2002), p. 41-43 Ibid., p. 81

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