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education in IndonesiaAs it stands, education in Indonesia lacks inclusivity and accessibility. The education system in Indonesia struggled from the start, making it harder to reform years of damage. However, there are steps being taken to improve the learning experience of Indonesian children and adolescents. This includes technology use, improved teacher education and more adequate education spending.

Education in Indonesia

Reports indicate that compared to other Southeast Asian countries, education in Indonesia is lacking in quality and effectiveness. For example, statistics display that 55% of students who pass through the Indonesian education system are functionally literate. This is high when compared to 14% in Vietnam.

Currently, education is compulsory in Indonesia and offered free of cost up until grade nine. Although the government is working on providing free schooling for grades 10-12, this has not yet been achieved. Early education is prioritized and there are high rates of pre-school attendance. Yet, there are disparities between genders and between urban and rural areas. For example, the nationwide preschool GER (gross enrollment ratio) is significantly lower in Papua and Maluku, Indonesia’s remote islands, at less than 50% in 2014.

Tertiary education attainment rates are also very low in Indonesia. The percentage of Indonesians above the age of 25 that had obtained, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in 2016, was less than 9%. This rate is the lowest of all the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). There is little incentive to complete tertiary education as the unemployment rate is high, even for those with degrees.

Teacher Education

Until the mid-2000s, Indonesian teachers could teach with just a diploma in the field. In fact, many elementary teachers held only a secondary school qualification. According to statistics, only 200,000 out of 1.25 million teachers had a university degree in 2006. However, legislation has made quality teacher education a priority. Presently, all teachers are required to have completed a four-year higher education in the form of a degree or a high-level diploma. Moreover, in order to be deemed qualified as a public school educator, one must undergo more rigorous certification and training requirements.

Technology for Remote Learning

As of early 2020, COVID-19 added further challenges to education in Indonesia and its already unstable system. COVID-19’s severe effects inhibited Indonesian students from attending school in person yet many of them lack access to internet and are unable to participate in remote learning. However, a recent initiative to collect second-hand cellphones may improve the education situation for Indonesian students.

Ghina Ghaliya, a journalist in Jakarta, was inspired to find a solution to this problem. When the pandemic started, Ghaliya started a group with 11 other journalists, providing food and money to underprivileged Indonesians. However, during the pandemic, the group shifted its focus to enable children to continue learning remotely. Ghaliya and her journalist friends began collecting second-hand cellphones and monetary donations so that children could acquire internet access for their classes. As of November 2020, 200 phones were collected and more than $35,000 worth of donations were given to the group to acquire more cellphones and prepaid internet plans.

Education Spending

Government expenditure on education has increased in recent years. Added funding allows for a more enriching learning experience for Indonesian students. For example, with increased spending, there has been a larger budget for hiring more teachers. As of 2017, the student-to-teacher ratio dropped from 20:1 to 16:1 in elementary schools. This exemplifies how with further spending and more teachers per student, one’s learning experience is augmented.

The education system in Indonesia does not adequately and equally serve its students. However, with initiatives such as allocating money toward education, improving teacher education and incorporating technology into curriculums, education in Indonesia is improving.

Ella Kaplun
Photo: Flickr

ceria

In the Indonesian district of Malaka, children are finally being provided with an opportunity to create a better future for themselves. Save the Children has partnered up with the H&M Conscious Foundation to improve educational conditions for children within this impoverished region of the world.

Malaka used to be part of the Belu district in East Nusa Tenggara province. It was so severely underdeveloped that the government decided to establish Malaka as its own district in 2012, hoping to finally spur development. Unfortunately, the district’s citizens are still fighting to break out of the poverty cycle.

Malaka contains 15 elementary schools filled with children seeking a quality education. Most children cannot afford to wear shoes to school. When they finally arrive on foot to their classrooms, they typically face deteriorating walls, lack of access to water and collapsing roofs.

Poor personal hygiene and health combined with the schools’ poor physical conditions often results in prolonged student sickness. To make matters worse, children are oftentimes juggling a language barrier as well.

Hailing from places like East Timor and belonging to ethnic groups that rely on different languages, many of the students do not speak Indonesian. The people of Malaka use five local languages representing the region’s indigenous tribes. Regardless of lack of comprehension, however, the material is taught primarily in Indonesian.

Primary school teachers often employ physical punishment as they deem necessary, causing many students to live in fear. In lower grades especially, it is not uncommon for students to fail their studies or have to repeat a grade due to some combination of the aforementioned factors.

In August 2014, Save the Children pledged to embark on a three-year project focused on improving education for around 2,850 children in the area. Since then, the charity has been working side by side with the H&M’s Conscious Foundation to build 15 new preschools and renovate the 15 existing Malakan schools.

Like Save the Children, the H&M Conscious Foundation seeks to improve children’s education. In addition, the independent organization works to empower women and provide access to clean water in developing countries.

The Conscious Foundation teamed up with STC to launch the Children in Early Grades Reach Incredible Achievements (CERIA) Project three years ago. CERIA also doubles as the Indonesian word for “cheerful.”

The CERIA project is targeting early education in order to achieve long-term effects. It aims to increase enrollment and attendance at quality preschools, improve teaching methods and school readiness for young students and reduce first-grade repetition rates.

The program is targeted at a total of 30 poor rural communities scattered throughout Malaka. Within each early childhood education center, there will be two classrooms able to accommodate 20 to 30 students. Some students are already benefiting from the progress made on renovations last year.

CERIA also offers free teacher training programs to improve the quality of education. Since the majority of teachers in Malaka are volunteers lacking a background in education, this has been an especially effective tool for improvement.

By its conclusion in 2017, the CERIA project is expected to benefit Malaka’s 2,400 elementary school teachers, 450 preschoolers and 180 primary and preschool teachers. There is no telling what accomplishments these properly educated children and teachers will be able to achieve in the long run.

Sarah Bernard

Sources: Jakarta Globe, H&M
Photo: Compassion International