As part of a curriculum overhaul that will come into effect next year, English will no longer be a subject taught in elementary schools, says Deputy Education and Culture Minister Musliar Kaslim.

He said that the omission aimed to give ample time for students to master the Indonesian language first before diving into foreign languages.

“Elementary schools won’t have English lessons because [students] haven’t even learned to understand the Indonesian language yet,” Musliar said on Wednesday. “Now, even some kindergarten students take English courses. I pity the kids.”

He stressed that all schools had to implement the change in their curriculum. The ministry, however, is still mulling whether private schools will be allowed to teach English to their students as a secondary subject or not, according to him.

“But for public schools, it’s definitely forbidden,” Musliar said as quoted by on Thursday.

As for international schools typically using English as their main language of instruction, the ministry had not decided what to do, he added.

Besides omitting English as a subject, the ministry also plans to trim the existing primary school subjects into six, namely religion, Indonesian language, civics education, arts and skills, physical education and general knowledge, according to Musliar.

The planned trimmed subjects include math, science, social studies, local content and self -development.

Musliar said that science and social studies would not be removed completely from the new curriculum, but rather would be incorporated into other subjects, such as Indonesian language.

The new curriculum will focus on character development for elementary school students, skill development for junior high school and knowledge building for senior high school. (han/swd)