Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Piece of PISA and Fruitful Dinner

Dr. Alexander Wiseman, from College of Education- Lehigh University USA, is an expert in Comparative and International Education, Series Editor in International Perspective on Education and Society, and also Co-chair of International Symposium of Comparative Science. He came to Indonesia for the first time, and I arranged his activity during his stay here. His main purpose for visiting Yogyakarta is making sure that the pilot project of Community Service (KKN) in which his University sent five students to UGM this year would run smoothly as expected. 
This Lehigh internship project is the pilot project of UGM and Lehigh University, and a follow-up project after the successful program of USIPP Summer Program and USIPP Faculty Workshop. Lehigh University is not a well-known university among other American university for us. It is located in Pennsylvania, and private collage with an excellence reputation on its quality. Moreover, the tuition fee is much higher compared to other public university in the US. Lehigh has been a closest partner of UGM in the region of America.
The preparation for this project had been discussed for a year. The massive e-mail and SKYPE meeting had been conducted several times. I never involved in the meeting since it always take place at night. I just help with the communication and prepared the SKYPE meeting. Then, finally the five students came to Yogyakarta. They stayed in UGM dormitory which we considered the best one compared to other dormitories. It is located quite far to the Campus, in Baciro area. The students came a week earlier before KKN starts so my office arranged orientation, language course, and cultural visit. The rest was just free-time.
In brief, the first problem occurred when there was a complaint from student's parent who said that they were disappoint with the arrangement. Then, I identify that there were essential root of problem such as: miss-communication perceived during SKYPE meeting, for example different perception about the cost of the program, condition and activity in the village, extra-cost for extracurricular activities and days-off program. Not to mention also: the various characteristic of the students, some are not mature and not ready for their main reason why they are coming: Community Service.
Those are the reason Mr. Alex was coming, he was appointed as supervisor of this joint-pilot project of Community Service UGM-Lehigh. 

"Test is a test and you can teach people how to a take test"

That was a shot and the best quote I got yesterday. It was on a lecture about "How PISA Inform the Global 'Crisis' in Education"  co-organized by Office of International Affairs and Faculty of Psychology. Before Dr. Wiseman's lecture, I had no idea at all about what is PISA. I just knew that it stands for 'Program for International Student Assessment'. During the lecture I just remembered reading a newspaper a while ago that said about the performance of Indonesian student in the PISA test is on the second lowest rank among all of countries being tested.

Dr. Wiseman sees PISA in a cynical way which I can not agree more on his argument. PISA itself was founded and constructed by OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ). So, I knew who are behind the gun and what the reason behind. Moreover, he said that PISA is just a test and not educational. From his research, despite a real good quality on education, the countries that ranked highly in PISA test are countries which has excellent testing system. Therefore, he underlined that 'test is a test (nothing educational), and you can teach how to take test'.  Moreover, he also explained factors that contributed to the high score in PISA.  The lecture was a great success. It was thought-provoking and insightful. The discussion went really well and fruitful. Most attendees also asked about the education system in Indonesia, how to improve, what is wrong, and etc.

It was raining at the evening when I picked Alex. We walked together from Indraloka Heritage Guest House to Gendhis Resto when we had dinner. The dinner was really important since we would meet the key persons in OIA and LPPM to solve the problem. It was a casual dinner to discuss all issues raised before KKN and during KKN. A night before, I was called by key persons in LPPM that made sure we had the same perception. I was glad that I already shared and discuss with the newly appointed executive director at my office. The dinner went really fruitful, a lot of laugh, win-win solution, saving-face exit strategy, and shared visionary for the future project. It was attended by six people, five male and I was the only female. At the end, I was much relieved that we could compromise and agreed on the solution.

I could sleep really well now, since I was the main communicator on the project. After all, I think having a reliable and trustworthy male boss made life a lot easier. They just do not have any hormone female bosses have, they just think and act rationally and avoid emotional bias. That was only my personal thought.

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