Jakarta, Indonesia, June 15, 2015 – Indonesia’s school grants program, the Bantuan Operasional Sekolah (known in Indonesia by its acronym BOS) is concluding its first decade of operation. Sweeping in scope, the program, which allocates grants to schools, impacted some 43 million primary and junior secondary school students across the country. The World Bank recently published a report which reviewed the program’s decade of implementation.
The key findings of the report are as follows:
The financial burden to families of sending their children to school initially fell
- After the BOS program was introduced in 2005, families with children in primary and junior secondary spent about 6% less in the first year.
- The poorest 20% of families saw the largest drops in spending, as did children who attended government schools.
- The savings became more acute at the junior secondary level, where the spending of the poorest families fell by 30%, compared to 5% at the primary school level.
- By 2009, however, as schools became more familiar with the workings of the BOS program, the costs for families began to increase. In real terms, the average spending for households in 2012 was 46% higher at primary than it was in 2003 before the introduction of the program.
More children attended school
- Enrolment in junior secondary, particularly for the poorest students, increased significantly after the BOS program. Between 2000 and 2005, rates of enrollment stagnated among poor children at the junior secondary level. Since the introduction of the program, enrolment rates for poor children have increased by 26%.
- BOS was expected to improve the chances of all children completing the nine years of compulsory education until junior secondary. However, there is little evidence to suggest that the program has significantly improved transition rates from primary to junior secondary education.
Schools managed themselves better
- BOS helped establish school committees, and committee members are supposed to organize themselves to manage the program’s funds.
- However, school committee members were rarely consulted when decisions were made for BOS fund allocations. More commonly, the school principal and teachers would agree on how to allocate funds, then communicate their decision to the school committee chair for approval.
The report outlines four main areas to strengthen the role of BOS in improving education outcomes:
Enhance focus on improving education quality
- BOS funding can be tied to quality assurance systems, by providing incentives for schools to obtain and maintain a certain accreditation status.
- Review the list of eligible items under BOS, so that schools have the flexibility to invest in items which would improve the quality of education. For example, schools should be allowed to use funds to purchase audio-visual equipment.
Strengthen the program’s poverty focus
- Indonesia is a large and diverse country; providing the same amount of per-student funding to schools in areas with high costs is unfair. In the future, the BOS program could periodically adjust the value of the grants to account for regional differences in price, and for inflation.
- Use the BOS formula to provide more funding to schools serving poor and disadvantaged children.
Making better use of BOS funding through improved coordination with other funding sources
- Fees and charges continue to represent a significant proportion of ‘out-of-pocket’ expenses. Efforts to clarify the rules on voluntary contributions to schools should continue, as should consideration to strengthen the role of school committees in managing the level of contributions.
- Coordinate other school grants from local government, in order to raise overall school standards beyond the level provided by BOS.
Revitalize the role of the BOS program in empowering schools and local communities.
- Currently, BOS teams at the schools manage the funds on a day-to-day basis. Transferring more responsibilities to the school committee and ensuring better representation in the committee have the potential to improve the effectiveness of BOS funds.