Teacher Reform in Indonesia: The Role of Politics and Evidence in Policy Making

July 8, 2014

In an effort to improve education quality in Indonesia, in 2005 the government passed the Teacher Law, a comprehensive bill designed to raise the quality of teachers.

“I wasn't confident in teaching, because I did not understand good teaching methods.   Now I am more confident and the students are more motivated to learn,” said Tina Setiawati, a teacher who benefitted from training provided by a project support the implementation of the teacher law.

A key reform required all teachers to acquire a four-year degree and be certified. Teachers who obtain certification then receive a professional allowance that effectively doubles their salary. By 2015, Indonesia’s 2.7 million teachers expect to be certified.

A new World Bank Group report, entitled "Teacher Reform in Indonesia: The Role of Politics and Evidence in Policy Making", assesses the impact of the Teacher Law and its reforms, on teacher knowledge, skills, and motivations. Equally importantly, the study looks at student learning outcomes. It also explores the bill’s impact on the financing of education, and on the distribution of teachers throughout Indonesia.

The findings are revelatory. They include:

  • The promise of higher salaries has increased the number of students training to be teachers, from 200,000 students in 2005 to over 1 million teacher aspirants in 2010.
  • The promise of higher salaries has also prompted teachers to complete the required four-year degree, so that in 2012, the number of certified teachers increased to 63 percent, compared to 23 percent in 2005.
  • The quality of students applying for teacher training has improved. For example, based on a sample from 15 universities, the average scores of candidates for primary school teachers were higher than the average scores of graduating high school students nation-wide.
  • The increased salary has prompted teachers to drop their second jobs, and many teachers claim to no longer face income difficulties.
  • Certification has not increased teachers’ competencies, nor has it improved student learning outcomes.
  • The costs of salary-doubling has put pressure on the education budget and potentially crowded out other interventions to improve quality. In 2013, nearly USD 4 billion dollars -- or 13 percent of the education budget -- went to the professional allowance alone.

The report provides insight on where improvements can be made:

  • Linking the number of teacher candidates across all teacher education institutions to the likely number of teachers needed by the education system.
  • More focus on policies that would lead to an optimal selection of teachers, particularly teachers who will serve at least part of their career in remote and rural areas.
  • Helping district authorities ensure that schools in their districts offer induction, mentoring, and probation processes for all new teachers, based on the required competencies, and that they are supervised by the principal and school supervisor.
  • Accounting of academic record and classroom performance before final certification.
  • Monitoring the methods used by universities to select the school graduates and uncertified teachers for entry into the four-year degree program.
  • Monitoring the four-year pre-service teacher training program to ensure that it is based on the essential competencies for subject matter and pedagogy.
  • Pre-service teacher training program to award the degree at an appropriate passing grade.
  • Implementing quality assurance and mechanisms for continuous professional development, including teacher working groups, in the districts.
  • Monitoring by principals and supervisors of the performance of certified teachers, and linking performance to career advancement, through annual appraisal of teacher performance.
  • Requiring re-certification or confirmation of certification every five years.
  • Implementing procedures for under-performing teachers, including providing additional support, supervision, and training.
  • Redeployment or dismissal of teachers who fail to respond and improve.