Education is one of the key vehicles for the intellectual and professional development of our people and plays an increasingly important role in supporting a stronger and more globally competitive Indonesia. However, education in Indonesia still has several problems related to quality and access as well as the even distribution of well-trained teachers.
Limited access to education in rural areas has contributed to increased urbanization as families relocate to cities in order to acquire better education. According to the Indonesian education activist Anies Baswedan, "the problem is that the number of education facilities in [the] Greater Jakarta area (Jabodetabek) is proportional, but we have a problem in the rural areas and it is causing urbanization to Jakarta." Baswedan calls for expanded educational access through the provision of increased educational services for communities as a whole. "If the schools are only located in district's capital, then many people might not be able to achieve proper education," he said.
Furthermore, the number of qualified teachers is still not evenly distributed in rural areas. According to the Director General of Primary Education at the Ministry of Education and Culture, Muhammad Hamid, many elementary schools (SD) in Indonesia face a serious shortage of teachers. The amount is estimated to reach 112,000 teachers.
To overcome the uneven teacher distribution, the Ministry of Education and Culture will work closely with local governments, both provincial and district / city, to improve teacher allocation in these areas. “If the teacher allocation can be optimally managed, areas that have a surplus of teachers can be transferred to nearby districts,” said Hamid.
In order to increase the number of qualified teachers in schools in Indonesia, the Ministry will offer bachelor degree scholarships for elementary (SD) and secondary school (SMP) teachers. Hamid estimates that only 60% of the 1.85 million elementary school teachers in Indonesia have bachelor degrees. Each year, the ministry also provide 100,000 bachelor degree scholarships for aspiring elementary and secondary school teachers.
Of 120 countries included in the 2012 UNESCO Education For All Global Monitoring Report, which measures education quality, Indonesia is ranked 64th. UNESCO’s 2011 Education Development Index (EDI) ranked Indonesia 69th out of 127 countries.
Additionally, the number of children that have dropped out of school in Indonesia is still high. "Based on the Ministry's data in 2010, there are more than 1.8 million children each year cannot continue their education. This is caused by three factors, namely economic factors, children who are forced to work to support the family, and marriage at an early age," according to the Directorate General of Higher Education Secretary Dr. Ir. Patdono Suwignjo, M. Eng, Sc in Jakarta.
According to the latest Human Development Index, reported by the UNDP, Indonesia ranked 121st out of 185 countries, with an HDI of .629. The report shows that Indonesia is ranked lower than two of its neighboring ASEAN countries, Malaysia (64th) and Singapore (18th). The average score for the region was 0.683.
Many educational scholars, activists, and ministry officials have all recognized the need to address Indonesia’s educational problems. "We have to solve the education problems, because knowledge ownership is key to achieving one's well-being," according to Anies Baswedan. In addition to providing scholarships for teachers, the Government of Indonesia has implemented various policies to improve the education quality in order to face the global competition which marked by the realization of the ASEAN Community in 2015 .
In order to strengthen basic education for students, the Ministry has committed operational and budgetary resources to the implementation of the latest 2013 Curriculum by 2014. "[We’re] ready for next year and almost all schools can implement the 2013 Curriculum," said Deputy Minister of Education and Culture, Musliar Kasim.
The 2013 Curriculum focuses on the acquisition of contextual knowledge in respective areas and environments. The curriculum seeks to develop students' evaluation skills in three areas: attitude (honesty, politeness, and discipline), technical skills (through practical work/school projects), and scientific knowledge. At the elementary level, the curriculum emphasizes the formation of attitudes and functional skills over scientific knowledge, which receives more attention at higher educational levels. At the junior and senior high school levels, the academic rigor is increased since the students’ personalities were emphasized at the primary level. According to Musliar, the new curriculum will be applied to elementary students' grade 1, 2, 4 and 5, junior high school students’ grade 8 and 9, as well as high school students’ grade 10 and 11.
The government will not print textbooks. As with the implementation of the previous year, the Ministry's textbooks will be uploaded to the internet.
The ministry will also set the maximum price for textbooks, which will be sold to the public. The 2013 Curriculum has been implemented since mid-2013 at a number of designated schools -- despite being criticized for its implementation seemed to be forced.
As an international aid agency supporting socio-economic development in Indonesia, USAID Indonesia has prioritized educational development through a number of initiatives including the USAID – PRESTASI program.
This year, USAID-PRESTASI selected 30 Indonesia professionals to receive scholarships for master’s degree programs at universities in the U.S. and Indonesia. The program is open to the public and is expected to support the development of human capital in candidates who are skilled in their field. These future leaders will ultimately make a positive contribution in their respective work environment once they returned to the In