Indonesia: Providing Early Learning Opportunities for Half a Million Children

April 3, 2013


A teacher with her students at an ECED center.

Ed Wray / World Bank

The World Bank-financed Early Childhood Education and Development (ECED) Project, launched in 2007, increases access to services among 3,000 targeted poor villages. Approximately 6,000 ECED centers have been established in 50 districts across Indonesia. To date, more than half a million children aged 0 to 6 have attended these centers.

Indonesia is a promising middle-income country with consistently strong economic growth.  Yet educational, nutritional, and health disparities remain, and for millions of people, the cycle of poverty is difficult to escape.  Stunted growth affects 35.6 percent of Indonesian children, increasing their chances of not completing basic education, a predicament that affects all future opportunities. Evidence from around the world shows that Early Childhood Education and Development (ECED) interventions benefit the poorest children the most. The government has long recognized the importance of Early Childhood Education and Development, but policy targets have historically faced multiple challenges, including the lack of training for teachers, the lack of national standards and other elements of quality assurance, and insufficient commitment at the level of district governments.









The Bank-financed ECED Project, launched in 2007, seeks to increase access to services among targeted poor villages.  The project identified 50 target districts, based on poverty rates, gross enrollment rates, location of the districts as well as local government commitment. Sixty priority villages within the districts were then identified, totaling 3,000 villages in all. Raising community awareness of the importance of ECED occurred first. Communities then applied for block grants (totaling US$18,000 over three years for two centers per village) with which to establish new or upgrade existing services. Teachers and child development workers participated in 200 hours of training.  National standards were developed along with quality assurance systems; these standards include specifications such as one teacher should serve no more than 20 students in formal kindergarten.  Training was also provided to establish and maintain program management, monitoring, and evaluation.  A detailed results framework was established, with measurable outcome indicators. Districts were encouraged to institutionalize ECED services. Data on the centers are collected annually to monitor changes in enrollment.  Since 2009, a randomized impact evaluation has followed children aged 1 and 4 to assess if the project is meeting its objectives. 



Students at ECED centers are encouraged to practice good hygiene, such as washing hands.

Ed Wray / World Bank

The ECED program has established approximately 6,000 centers, staffed by 12,000 trained teachers. Other results, as of October 2012, include:

  • Since the project began, 537,700 children aged 0 to 6 have attended these ECED centers.
  • Ninety-nine percent of parents in targeted communities received information about ECED, exceeding the 80 percent target.
  • Approximately 5,990 communities were awarded block grants, exceeding expectations.
  • Thirty-eight out of the 50 selected districts (76 percent) have enacted local regulations to support ECED positions in district governments, nearly reaching the 80 percent target.
  • Sixty-seven percent of villages now undertake annual community assessments and 93 percent of villages routinely submit reports to district governments.
  • The impacts of the project on child development were larger for poorer children in the sample, as well as for children who had never before been enrolled in any type of ECED service and those children whose parents exhibited negative parenting practices. For instance, in the domain of language and cognitive development, the impact of the project on children from poorer families was 14 percent. This impact was statistically significant at the 5 percent level and is in stark contrast to the statistically insignificant impact on the average child in this domain. The centers successfully target children in the poorer households, in part because most do not charge fees.
  • Indirectly, many other non-project ECED programs, teachers, and children will benefit as a result of the project’s support for national quality standards.  In the past, national quality standards did not exist; providers of early childhood services were not required to meet minimum standards of quality. With the development of national standards, all providers are subject to a common set of requirements.

" Health posts mothers who have children aged 0 to 5 years that had not received early childhood education from the Mothers Groups (BKB) now have access to parenting education "

Husnul Khatimah

Works at an ECED center in Samapuin village, Sumbawa island


An ECED student is given a snack by a teacher; provision of meals provides an incentive for poor families to enroll their children at ECED centers.

Ed Wray / World Bank

Bank Group Contribution
The total cost for the ECED Project is US$127.74 million for 2007-2013. The Bank contributed US$67.5 million with an International Development Association (IDA) credit. The rest of the funds were provided the Government of Indonesia and by development partners, including the Netherlands

The success of the ECED program relies on strong collaboration between development partners, in particularly the Netherlands, which provided US$25.3 million for project implementation support through the Dutch Education Support Program Trust Fund. In addition, a team of researchers, funded through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) Development Research Award Scheme (ADRAS), helped with the design and implementation of the impact evaluation.

Moving Forward
As the government seeks to expand access to ECED services, it is reviewing the project’s model of service provision to identify strengths and weaknesses in the approach, in order to develop a plan for implementing holistic and integrated early childhood services. In addition, the government is adapting the teacher training provided under the project to be included in its new ECED teacher training program. 

Before the arrival of ECED centers, the families of Samapuin village on Sumbawa island, West Nusa Tenggara, received early childhood development services from various agencies, such as the Village Health Posts (Posyandu) or the Mothers Groups (BKB), if at all.  The ECED program consolidated those services under one roof.  “Health posts mothers who have children aged 0 to 5 years that had not received early childhood education from the Mothers Groups (BKB) now have access to parenting education,” says Husnul Khatimah, who works at an ECED center in Samapuin village, Sumbawa island.

Children have attended early childhood centers, improving their development in both education and health.