After Singapore

I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more

Three Members of the Committee

Vocational Schools Art Festival

The Indonesian education ministry has this department called Pusat Prestasi Nasional (Puspresnas, National Achievement Center) that holds various competitions for students in Indonesia. One of their program is the FLS2N SMK (Festival dan Lomba Seni Siswa Nasional untuk Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan). It roughly translates to Art Competition and Festival for Vocational High Schools, though during the pandemic “competition” part is thicker than the festival counterpart.

A play from Rizakustik, one of the judges for solo guitar.

It all started many years ago when our team was asked to build the online competition system for FLS2N SMA (similar, but for regular high school students). I admit that it was a huge failure, mainly because (1) we did not understand fully the competition system and (2) huge resistance from provincial governments to not use the online system. In the end, the system was practically useless and works of many students submitted to the system were never, viewed let alone judged by the judges.

Composition from Dhanang Guritno, one of the judges for song composition.

Fast forward to 2020, when COVID-19 pandemic hit. The Pusat Prestasi Nasional department was, I assume, in total distress. Everything had to be online, and I was lucky that my team is in their contact list. We had a few weeks to bring the old system back to cater the competition online. My team was awarded the project for vocational school, while the regular school was handled by another team.

There are of course some challenges working on this project. But just as Morgan Freeman, I mean Nelson Mandela, once said, “It seems impossible until it’s done”.

It seems impossible until it’s done

Nelson Mandela

With only a few weeks before the system was actually being used, I was lucky to have a half-baked system. However, it also turned to be a disadvantage as well. Since the architecture was well set, adapting to new requirements become slower and need extra care to not introduce regression (errors due to change in the code).

Solid metal song from Ponco Satrio, one of the judges for solo singing

Actually working with art judges is also another challenge. Unlike science where it’s easier to differentiate right answers from the wrong ones, giving score to art product is in some part subjective. At the same time, Pusat Prestasi Nasional needs rationale for each score given.

In 2020, most challenges actually came from half-preparedness of the system. There were some bugs that caused extra work. For example, the automatic detection of students’ school identity resulted in many students registered to come from Kepulauan Seribu, a regency in Jakarta.

In 2021, we were glad to being awarded the same project again, and we have fixed those major mistakes we did in 2020. However, there came another challenge: more provinces (about half of all provinces in Indonesia) were ready for and chose their own selection mechanism, hence untracked within our system. Therefore most of the participants from those provinces must be inputted manually to the system. We are lucky to have a dedicated staff from Puspresnas who has the knowledge and capability to ensure those participants are well recorded.

At the time of this blog writing, the national judging has just finished. From past experience, the national judging is much easier, since there are only at most 35 participants being graded for each division. As you may see when reading this post, I inserted some music that was actually made by some of the judges. Below are more videos from the judges.

As you may have seen above, I inserted some products of the judges. Below are more example of their products.