Problems of Education in Indonesia


Is Education Different From Schooling

Education means teaching someone how to do certain things by encouraging them to use the acquired skills and knowledge. The process of education aims at developing the powers of reasoning and preparing the student intellectually for mature life.

Many people confuse education with schooling due to the narrow mindset of education means schools, teachers. We do not blame them because of the way a lot of schools and colleges operate no way we can call education. The learning institutions have been pushed into schooling that is trying to drill in information into the students according to a plan developed by our forefathers. Treating the students like things that should be acted upon rather than people.  Paulo Freire referred to it as the banking system, making deposits of knowledge into the students.

Acting in Hope

In the past decade, Indonesia has made progress in improving access to education. In the early 1980s and 1970 when the country had huge profits due to the booming oil international prices, new public schools especially primary schools were built and more teachers trained. That was the New Order government which also established the growth of the private HIEs. The Post-New Order government continue to build more schools but at a slower rate.

The government efforts to provide free education has intersected with the demographic changes which have led to increased demand for education. The country’s student enrollment rate regardless of the age has risen to 85 percent. However, the expansion of the education facilities has not been matched by improved education quality. The learning outcome was low and has improved little if at all over the post-new order government. The students fail to meet the minimum standards for the test in reading, mathematics, and science. Indonesia scores poorly on the Programme for International Student Assessment PISA and Trends in International Mathematics and Science TIMSS compared to its neighboring countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

What are the causes of the poor quality education in Indonesia?

Proximate Causes of Poor Education in Indonesia

  1. 1. TheLevelof Government Spending

Although the government has invested heavily in expanding the school infrastructures, the budget allocated for the education ministry has drastically reduced over the years. The low level of government spending on education led to the amendment of the constitution to require the government to spend at least twenty percent of its budget on education. The move has improved government spending on education, but the level is still low compared to other middle-income countries.

Low expenditure on education undermines the quality in various ways:

  • It has encouraged the development of low-quality private schools in efforts to absorb the growing education demand not met by the public schools
  • The teachers are paid poorly, and this has demotivated intelligent high school graduates from pursuing teaching careers.
  • Lack of finances has led to inadequacy in educational materials such as textbooks, research materials, and teaching supplies.

  1. 2. LackofQualified Teachers

Most of the Indonesian teachers have low-level qualifications. Research shows that over 60 percent of the teachers do not hold a bachelor’s degree and do not have the knowledge and skills to be effective teachers. A while back the government introduced competency test for the tutors and over three million teachers scored below the designated target of an average of 55. The teachers are not paid well and therefore; graduates opt for other careers other than education. The situation is worse in private schools, and more pronounced in the top country universities.

  1. 3. Corruption

Teachers and academic scholars and heads are appointed from loyalty, family, and friendship rather than merit.  The trend has discouraged teachers from delivering high-quality education services or conducting proper research to improve their track record in offering their services. There is no termination of employment even for the staff performing poorly. The situation is worsened by the reduced salaries. The teachers are often absent from their classes as they take on extra jobs of non-academic nature to increase their income.

  1. 4. ASecularEducation System

Religion is a private matter and a tool to organize the education system. The Education Law read the national education aims to form faithful humans righteous to God and to hold specific characteristics like:

  • Noble mind
  • Competent
  • Knowledgeable
  • Respectful
  • And responsible democratic citizens.

However, the education system is a system of secularism: not using religion to regulate the student life. The students who share a common religion are cramped together unable to interact with other faiths. Their students thus have different beliefs leading to professionals that are morally depraved.

As I conclude, we have to address the education problems because knowledge is the key to achieving well-being. The government should offer scholarships for teachers, commit enough resources to the implementation of the curriculum and develop student skills in:

  • Attitude- honesty, discipline
  • Technical skills
  • Increase the student’s scientific knowledge.


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