By Shofan Fiangga
IMPoME 2012 scholarship receiver
International Master Program on Mathematics Education
Exchange student at Utrecht University

Almost 1 year I have been doing my master program in Netherland in behalf of IMPoME program. IMPoME which stands for International Master Program of Mathematics Education is a 5 years cooperation program between 3 universities in both Netherland and Indonesia. The universities are Universiteit Utrecht (Utrecht University, the Netherland), Universitas Negeri Surabaya – UNESA (State University of Surabaya), and Universitas Sriwijaya – Unsri (Sriwijaya University).
12 members of IMPoME batch 3 in front of University Library
IMPoME is a joint degree program initiated by P4MRI (Pusat Pengembangan dan Pelatihan Pendidikan Matematika Realistik Indonesia), an information and communication center for teachers, lecturers, and university students who are interested in PMRI (Pendidikan Matematika Realistik Indonesia) or RME of Indonesia. RME stands for Realistic Mathematics Education which is an educational approach developed in Netherland by Hans Freudenthal (1905-1990) who concern about educational system at his time which is only concern about the content and ignoring a meaningful context and students’ conceptual understanding.I will divide this article in two sections; First, I would like to share about the profile of Utrecht university and the Netherland Educational System. Second, a story of Pak Muchlas, the rector of UNESA, and me visiting NEMO, a science center museum, will be the main theme beside some remarks of what educational practitioner can possibly do instead of teaching.Profile of Utrecht UniversityUtrecht University is located in Utrecht an old city in the center of the Netherland. Established March 26, 1636, it becomes one of the oldest and the biggest university in Europe with 7 faculties and 3 interfaculty unit.

According to both the the Times Higher Education World University Ranking 2011 and the Shanghai Ranking of World Universities 2012, Utrecht University ranked as the 12th best European university and the 68th best university of the world. Nevertheless, this university is still the best university in Netherland.The academic year in Utrecht University is divided into 2 semesters which is also divided into 2 blocks for each semester. in each block, there are usually 8 meetings for each course. The grading system here uses the decimal scale from 1-10. However, several lecturers consider that 10 is for God and 9 is for the expert, so 8 is the best that you can achieve here.The class activities can be divided into 2 kinds which are hearing and working. In hearing class, the lecturer will give presentation in front the class and all of the students listening to him/her. They are allowed to speak if there is discussion time or the speaker allows them to speak. Another course is defined as working class. Here, usually the students are doing the task in group. They will discuss about how to do the tasks and also they can ask the lecturer for help if it is necessary.There are four important websites page for student of Utrecht University. They should always check what the update of information through them is. They are Utrecht University Official website, Osiris Utrecht University, library Utrecht University, and Blackboard. As Utrecht University Official, it provides a general information about studying in Utrecht. Announcements about general events will also appear here like students’ graduation, stadium general, and others. we can also click on the help tabs to ask for help to the university about our problems. Another one is Osiris Utrecht University. It is an online administration office that deals with such administrative things like registration; enroll courses, courses overview, grades, and all similar things. it is more like SIAKAD in UNESA. The difference is that here we do not have any paper-using registration unlike in UNESA that we still also need to confirm in paper when we register in courses. The system in Osiris is also quite integrated with others facilities. I will explain about the other two webs in the later issue.

Talk about the facilities. Utrecht University (UU) really integrates the technology especially ICT (Internet Computer Technology). The buildings and the classroom are really built as comfort as possible for the students to encourage them to study. Most of the class using what is called smartboard. It is a fusion of whiteboard and touch screen projector computer. Most of them have been automatically added.

The students Identity system in Utrecht University is quite sophisticated. Once we are accepted by UU, we will receive the student ID number and what so called solis-ugid nummer as the main ID number for a student. The solis ID along with the password will be used as main username and password to enter the university network and use many facilities available like using working computer which is available in the whole buildings even in each floor. Others usage of solis ID is to have an access to digital environmental facilities such as blackboard and online library. what a surprise here that we can login using this ID into others university wifi network like what I  have tried in Leiden University and Parnasos students house.Blackboard is really important to access the course material and to submit the assignment. Here, we can also share our file each other and do discussion toward certain issue. Respecting to submitting assignment, this blackboard is facilitated by safeassignment program which can test how far our paper are considered in the case of quotation points with other paper. The lecturers also use this blackboard to give announcement besides using email. Nevertheless, the use of email in the Netherland is really important that most of working activities is done via email. So, you would better check your email every hour.Another digital environment facility is the online library system. Unlike in conventional library that we must search the book that we want on book shelves. Here, we only search through online library search, of course with login using our solis ID, after we have found the book or the article that we want, and then we just send our application to borrow the book by only click on the book button. Moreover, we can also see the status of the book that we want whether it is available or being borrowed by other students. What we should do next is that we just wait for an email from the library that state our book can be taken. If so, then we just go to the library and take the book from picking shelves near the entrance of library. Here, we also do not need to ask the librarian if we want to take the book home. we just face a touchscreen computer and scan our library ID card then put the book on the scanning table, click to confirm, and done. It is a convenient ways of borrowing books, so, when we cannot find the book, we do not need to go to the library and searching thoroughly. We also do similar things when we want to give the book back.In the library system, we are also provided with a personal online library. Here, we can develop our own library of which books that we have already read and borrowed as well as digital version of many articles and journals. we also can manage our borrowed books without going to the library. Adding journal page also possible here that we can have access to the journal easily and be informed about the latest articles in the journal.

Other advantage in using university library network is that we have a broad access to many famous journal or articles of research. We can freely download the journals as pdf document and save them when we are in university network. We can also do that from our home but using proxy server of university library network that we must login using our solis ID. This is one thing that really helps students here to do more research and analyzing paper from the famous journal. we can also access to many dissertation of many lecturer or professor of Utrecht university using ignitur network.

The Netherland Educational System

Unlike Indonesia educational system in which most of the system is treat the students with the same need; in the Netherlands Educational system is quite complicated but really considering the individual’s need and background. In fact, the Netherlands can provide a really detail system of education here.

The Netherland Education System
The Netherland define compulsory education start from age 5 to 16 years old. At the beginning, the pupils (children) should enroll in Elementary schools which are most of them using the same educational curriculum from the Netherland Ministry of Education. In the end of the elementary school, they will have CITO test which is intended to recommend the best suited secondary school for the pupils. However, in fact, the decision is also considering the teacher advise and the parents’ opinion.There are no junior high schools the Dutch educational system, for all levels in Dutch high schools has brugklas(literally, bridge class) in the first year. It is conducted to connect the elementary school system to the secondary education system. During this year, pupils will gradually learn to cope with the differences between school systems, such as dealing with an increased personal responsibility (wikipedia).Netherland system of education really concerns about individual specialization. they made such steps in education that the students who want to go to high education can follow the paths of VWO and HAVO. In the other side, for others who want to do job as soon as possible, they can choose VMBO. However, in between those 3 paths, they can move and change into another educational path, as far as the requirements are sufficient.Like I said previously, personal responsibility is really became the main issue for students in the school. We can see, if you have a chance to visit a Dutch school, how they really take care of what they have done. They are freely doing whatever they like but in two conditions: (1) they must stick to the schedules on which they already have planned and the regulations and (2) they must appreciate others right as they cannot disturb their friends. The result of those education can be seen that most of Dutch people will always obey the rule in the road, public area, and soon. They also always put any activities in their agenda, such that, they can plan everything according to the situations and conditions. In addition, they really appreciate what we called individual privacy. However, the Dutch people are quite kind that they always greet us even they do not know us.

Using a wonderful educational system, no wonder the Netherland achieved a high rank in the world. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), conducted in 2008 by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ranks the education in the Netherlands as the 9th best in the world.

Science Center and the role of Science and Educational Practitioner

On Thursday May 31st, 2012, Pak Muchlas arrived at Schipol international airport Amsterdam the Netherland after he followed ASEM conference in Denmark. In this 7 days visit, Pak Muchlas had 2 negotiations which were important for UNESA. First, Pak Muchlas met with the director of Freudenthal Institute of Utrecht University to discuss the continuation of IMPOME program. Second, Pak Muchlas met with director of KITLV Institute of Leiden University to initialize a new program of sandwich with Faculty of Language UNESA.

On June 4th, 2012, Pak Muchlas asked some IMPOME students to accompany him in exploring Amsterdam during his free day in Sunday. The first tourism object that we visited is science center museum, NEMO. Then we visited museumplein where we can take photographs of IAMSTERDAM landmark, there are famous spots inMuseumplein like concert gebowvan gough museum, and rijkmuseum. The next destination is an old bookstore in Spui. Pak Muchlas searched for several books that he can bring home. The last spot before we end the journey is the Damsquare. Pak Muchlas spent some times in the souvenirs shop here and take photographs in the middle of amazing old building there like Oudkerk and Madam Tussaud Museum. What I want to highlight here is our visit in NEMO where I can share my personal experience and dream there.

NEMO, the biggest science center in the Netherland, was opened by Queen Beatrix in 1997. Before Introduced as NEMO, this museum was called NINT or Nederlands Instituut voor Nijverheid en Techniek (English: Dutch Institute of Labor and Technology). The museum is housed in a building designed by Renzo Piano since 1997 with five floors of hands-on science exhibitions. It is the fourth most visited museum in the Netherlands which attracts annually over 500,000 visitors.

When we entered the lobby, we must take a line first to get the tickets from the locket. What the nice thing in the Netherland is that there is a museum card that you can use to enter hundreds museum in the Netherland unlimited times for only 40 Euros per year. The fact that the museums in the Netherland managed very well is undeniable. They really integrate what museums are and what the educational and recreational aspects are. That make the museums in Netherland are quite worth to be visited. By the way, let us start exploring the NEMO museum.In the lobby there are souvenirs shop and cafeteria. In the souvenirs shop, you can find a miniature of Nemo attractions. There are also some science books there. In the cafeteria, we got a nice treat from Pak Muchlas to have a lunch. while we were eating there, we can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Amsterdam canal and a big floating Chinese restaurant. Just before the cafeteria, you can see a big water clock which uses water as the main time indicator without any other resource as the power.We start our journey in NEMO from the first floor with a lot of interactive attractions with DNA as the theme. How every human in the world differ each other is explained in interesting way. In the middle in this floor we can see a physical chain reaction that is really awesome. On the second floor, there was a huge device right after the stair and many children played with this huge circuit like machine. This machine is a factory where small plastic balls are sent and selected by the children to the packing facility according to the weight, size, and color. Here, we can also interact with attraction of energy producing device from nature, like solar cell, water turbine, etc.
Factory selection machine (left) and physical chain reaction (right)
Science molecule experiment is the main theme of the attractions in the third floor. we can see how scientist dealing with the experiment involving DNA molecule and soon. Then, the last floor in our visit was a section of human mind. Memory and sense tests and mind problem attraction was the examples of the attractions in this floor.We had had experience so much about science fact and the applications there. In my opinion, this kind of museum is important and needed not only for children but also for the adults. The children themselves can explore about what science actually is directly. Because, so far, they only know what science is from book. Moreover, they can see the wide application of science in their life.One of my dream is having own science center in Surabaya, because, in Java island, Jakarta, Bandung, and Yogyakarta have already had a science center. When I shared this idea to Pak Muchlas, he responded enthusiastically. He agreed that we need something like that in Surabaya. Furthermore, he said that he can propose to the major of Surabaya and, perhaps, he can propose UNESA as the host of the project, not only providing the area, but also providing the human resources.UNESA as one of the educational resources university in Indonesia should provide both only prospective teacher and educational practitioner. In the Netherland, the role of educational practitioner is not only in school but also outside the school. They are capable to teach at school, to do research at education, to manage museum, to design educational information, to inform scientific issue, and so on. Moreover, they are really integrated in every aspect. Most of the results of the study of educational researcher are always being used in the practical aspect. That is what I have perceived from Science Education Professional Program in the Netherland.

That is all about several interesting aspects that I think really important to share with others in UNESA. Hopefully, this idea can trigger bigger movement to make UNESA better from the best. VIVA UNESA. UNESA tetap JAYA.

Shofan Fiangga


Image Source:

Private collection of IMPoME Students

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