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publication November 18, 2020

The Promise of Education in Indonesia

Download full report (.pdf) | Overview (Bahasa .pdf) | Presentation (.pdf)

  • Indonesia needs an education and training system that can enhance the well-being of its citizens, improve its human capital, and achieve its economic and development goals.
  • Indonesia has made significant progress in education, including large improvements in enrolment and gender parity.
    • Decentralization was accompanied by an increase in education spending by an estimated 200 percent in real terms since 2002. Student enrollment has increased over the same time period by more than 10 million (31 percent) at the primary and secondary education levels.
    • Indonesia has demonstrated great progress on gender parity in education. In 1975, 65 percent of students were male, while now the proportion of males and females are roughly equal, though important variations exist at the subnational level.
  • Despite these important improvements, student learning levels and learning inequality are major challenges. Most students do not meet the national learning targets Indonesia has set itself.
    • On average, students did not meet the passing score for the grade 12 National Exam.
    • A total of 70 percent of children could not demonstrate basic literacy on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018.
    • Disadvantaged students, such as those who are poor, live in remote areas or have disabilities, are often behind their peers in the same grade.  
  • Going to school is not the same as learning. How much students learn throughout the education system has a direct impact on how productive they can be as adults. If they are equipped with the skills they need for the job market, Indonesia’s youth have the potential to boost Indonesia’s overall productivity, economic growth and prosperity.
  • To build on education reforms and achieve better results in line with President Jokowi’s vision, Indonesia can consider the following options:
    • Ensuring all children get a good start: Indonesia can make two years of quality early childhood education compulsory and accessible to all so that children come to school ready to learn. It can strengthen the coverage and quality of early childhood education by allocating sufficient funding both at central and district levels, and developing a roadmap to achieve two years of universal early childhood enrollment by 2030.
    • Focusing on Learning for all: A focus on learning is needed throughout the education system. to ensure that no children fall behind, especially those who are poor, live in remote areas, or have disabilities.
    • Assessing and bridging Learning Gaps: Indonesia can use student assessments to inform teachers and school directors about what students don’t know, and link them to targeted support for students who need more help. This is especially important as part of Covid recovery and improvement.
    • Selecting, preparing and supporting teachers: Well-trained and motivated teachers are the most fundamental ingredient for learning after the students themselves. To improve student learning, Indonesia needs to select the best teacher candidates and support them more effectively, both before they enter the classroom and throughout their careers.
    • Strengthening accountability mechanisms: Strengthen capacity and reporting at the subnational level so that support and attention can be directed to those areas that need it most.
    • Building a more resilient education system: Indonesia can invest in online-teaching and learning capacities, data storage systems, and disaster-resilient infrastructure to ensure learning continuity in the present COVID-pandemic and for future challenges.

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.