Opening the doors to Education for a generation of young Indonesians
August 3, 2012
- Indonesia has initiated the 9-year compulsory basic education but many still cannot afford to send their children to school.
- In 2005, the government initiated the BOS Program, providing grants to schools for elementary and junior secondary levels.
- After 7 years of implementation, the BOS Program has reached over 200,000 schools and is helping more than 40 million students go to school.
Jakarta, August 3, 2012 - “I want to be a teacher, because they provide an invaluable service,” said Baginda, a junior secondary student in Aceh. “My family couldn’t afford to send me to school. But thanks to the BOS Program, I can now continue my education.”
Like millions of other Indonesian children, Baginda is continuing his studies with the help of the government’s school operational assistance program, better known as BOS (Bantuan Operasional Sekolah).
Reducing burden for poor families to obtain education
The BOS Program provides grants to schools on a per-student basis, and funds are given to all schools at the elementary and junior secondary level. After 7 years of implementation, the amount of grant per student has now doubled compared to when the program was initiated in 2005. For students at the elementary level, schools receive Rp 580,000 ($65) per student each year, while junior secondary schools receive Rp 710,000 ($79).
The grants help reduce financial burden, especially for poor families, so their children can meet the 9-year compulsory basic education. For instance, Dhenok Ari, who works as a domestic clothes washer, is now able to send her two children to school with the help of the program. “I now spend less because I don’t have to pay for school fees and books,” said Dhenok.
Schools have also noticed results that the program has brought. According to Conni Mario, Principal of state junior secondary school 7 in Bitung, “The difference before and after BOS is obvious. The dropout rate is dramatically reduced. Children’s interest to learn has also increased due to better facilities made available by BOS.”
The difference before and after BOS is obvious. The dropout rate is dramatically reduced. Children’s interest to learn has also increased due to better facilities made available by BOS.
Community involvement and transparency are key
The government has disbursed billions of dollars for the BOS Program, with support from the World Bank, AusAID, the European Union and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The program now reaches over 200,000 schools and covers more than 40 million students, or 70 percent of all students in the country.
“Community involvement and transparency are key in its implementation,” said Musliar Kasim, Vice Minister of Education and Culture. “I understand these two issues are perhaps the biggest challenges but we are improving,” he added.
The community is involved through the school committee. Members of the committee, together with the school, decide how the funds will be spent to improve school outcomes. The committee also helps ensure that funds are properly used.
RM Sunarpo, Head of the School Committee at elementary school Golo, Yogyakarta, explained that, “BOS funds are used efficiently and transparently. BOS expenditures are reported regularly and displayed on a public information board.”
The government has taken additional measures to ensure transparency, such as monitoring funds received by schools from the bank which helps disburse the funds. The Ministry of Education and Culture has also developed an online reporting system for the public.
The BOS Program has helped transform a centralized education system to one supporting school-based management. Schools are now more autonomous since they are allowed to manage their own funds. In schools with more autonomy, students tend to achieve better results because the school is able to better cater to the needs of its students.
Future of the BOS Program
The program has helped millions of children, but there is always room for improvements. “One agenda of the BOS program that needs to be addressed is how to make it more equitable,” said Mae Chu Chang, Head of Human Development at the World Bank in Indonesia. “All schools still receive the same amount of funds per-student, although their needs and conditions are different.”
Many districts follow the central BOS program to allocate funds to schools, which is based on a per-student formula. This means large schools receive more funds and small schools receive less. However, small schools often have different needs, and require more operational support than larger urban schools.
One effort to address equality is a program known as BOSDA, or local BOS. The program is similar to BOS but implemented by the local governments. Through this program, more funds can be better allocated for schools in demanding conditions, including those with a small number of students, remotely located, or poor.