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- Student Learning. Across all types of schools, students were on average 1.5 years behind the learning level expected for 4th grade, representing a learning crisis. Less than one-third (28 percent) of Grade 4 students read at the Grade 4 level.
- Teacher Absence. The absence rate of teachers is high in Indonesia’s primary education system, with almost one in four teachers (23.5 percent) not present in the classroom on a given day. Most of these absences are officially excused, suggesting that the system allows a very large number of teacher absences.
- Teacher Knowledge. Teacher scores in the three subjects of Indonesian language, math, and pedagogy were very low across the sample.
- Materials for Learning. Fewer than half (47.4 percent) of the students in schools had a textbook for the subjects observed. Close to one-third (29.4 percent) of Grade 4 classrooms observed did not have the minimum teaching materials for students, such as a blackboard, chalk, pens, pencils, and notebooks.
- Infrastructure. Over 40% of schools of all types lack minimum infrastructure, defined as the availability of functional toilets for students and sufficient light in the classroom. Only half of surveyed schools contained proper handwashing facilities with running water and soap, an important concern for safe return to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Student Perception. Grade 4 students observed have positive perceptions of their teachers’ efficacy and pedagogic skills, especially in the case of emotional support. More than 80 percent of students said their teachers encouraged them to do their best, and most students felt that everyone knew what they should be doing and learning.
- Gender Differences. Female students outperformed male students by important margins in almost all subjects (5 percentage points higher in mathematics and Arabic, and 4 percentage points higher in Indonesian language).
- In addition to the challenges above, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will have a profound impact on Indonesia’s education progress. While the government has taken many timely steps to support learning from home, the pandemic is still likely to reduce learning and widen existing inequalities.
- The SDI survey results show major shortcomings in the education system for a recently designated upper middle-income country. To build on its education reforms and achieve better results, Indonesia can focus on the following key areas:
- Strengthen accountability. Act to hold teachers and principals accountable for using student time effectively. This starts with being present and teaching during class time, as well as minimizing official non-teaching duty assignments.
- Recruit the best teacher candidates. Use the current wave of teacher retirement to hire only teachers with high levels of subject-matter and pedagogy knowledge.
- Improve availability of minimum infrastructure and textbooks. Help all schools achieve minimum levels of infrastructure by making sure infrastructure funds already flowing to subnational governments targeted the highest-need schools. MoEC and MoRA can work together with subnational districts to urgently address critical shortages in textbook availability for students.
- Make quality early childhood education accessible to all. Districts and cities can allocate larger portions of their existing education budget to provide two or three years of access to high-quality early childhood education services for every child.
- Address gender learning gaps. When designing improvements in teacher training and curriculum reform, MoEC and MoRA can consider ways to make instruction more appealing to male students to help them stay engaged and learn more. This approach should attempt to improve learning for all students, both male and female.
- Involve stakeholders and align perceptions. Indonesian students have reported high levels of satisfaction in the face of low levels of learning in this and other studies. Student learning outcomes may improve by providing parents, school committees, and communities with relevant and targeted information on student learning achievement, while simultaneously supporting teachers to identify and address learning gaps.
- Increase efforts to address malnutrition and its effects, including stunting. Students who had had breakfast, whether at home, outside or at school on the day of the evaluation obtained better results in all subjects. Efforts at all levels of government to address malnutrition and its effects, including stunting, can be increased.
This report was produced with financial support from the Australian Government (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) under the Improving Dimensions of Teaching, Education Management, and Learning Environment (ID-TEMAN) program.