20 January, 2009


By Anton Widyanto. This article was also published on www.acehinstitute.org

Recently, the development of primary education in Indonesia is showing positive trends. Data concerning achievement of millennium development goals of Indonesia (2007) reveals a significant growth in 1992 and 2006 for both primary and junior high school net enrolment ratio. In 1992, primary school net enrolment ratio was 88.7 percent and it has increased up to 94.7 percent in 2006, whereas, for junior school was 41.9 percent in 1992 and improved up to 66.5 percent in 2006. In addition, nationally speaking, the primary school gross enrolment ratio (GER) and the junior high school gross enrolment ratio between 1993 and 2006 have also shown optimistic improvement .

The evidence above shows a great commitment of the Government of Indonesia to improve the quality of education. Furthermore, the allocation of at least 20% of the total National Budget (APBN) and Local Government Budget (APBD) since 2009 is another evidence of this positive commitment. However, there are still several challenges which need to be addressed. These challenges are related to decentralization policy, school management, and gender equality.First of all, in general, decentralization policy of education in Indonesia is a part of reformation era demands. This concept has basically intended to upgrade the quality of centralized education system during more than 50 years. The concept of this decentralization can be inferred from the Act of the Republic of Indonesia Number 20, year 2003 on National Education System, which states that the central government and local governments have the right to guide, supervise,assist, and monitor the implementation of education in accordance with the regulations, which are in force? (Article 10). And then article 11 says: (1) "The Government and local governments have to provide services and facilities, and ensure the implementation of quality in education for every citizen without discrimination. (2) The Government and local governments have to ensure the availability of funds for the implementation of education for every Indonesian citizen from the age of seven to fifteen. Therefore, it's clear that local governments also have a big responsibility to improve the quality of education. For this reason, at least they have to guarantee that every child can have proper access to the primary school.

According to Ace Suryadi, expert staff of the Minister of Education of the Republic of Indonesia, the problem of decentralization rises when local governments in Indonesia do not comprehend this concept well.They just wait for the central government's instruction because they are afraid of making mistakes and being creative . On the other hand, the Central Government of Indonesia seems to have communicative problems with local government regarding new policies to local governments and this has caused the local actors seems reluctant to implement the policy. For instance, related to the implementation of 2006 national curriculum as a replacement of national curriculum of 2004, many local actors do not comprehend how to implement the curriculum due to socialization problems. Therefore, here, socialization plays an important role that cannot be neglected by the central government.

The next problem is the school management issue. It still becomes a challenge to improve the quality of education in Indonesia. Although the National Education Department promotes school based management programs, planty of schools cannot implement them properly. The lack of pre-service and in service training for teachers and low community participation particularly in remote and rural areas are the main factors that have caused this problem. School committees as the representatives of community participation are merely functioning as school partners in finance. Even, this is still a positive contribution, Morgan in his finding of his research on community participation in Southern Africa mentioned that such participation will make them have greater sense of ownership over the school, and this is obviously not enough, because the problem in the schools doesn't merely relate to financing matter, but more important than that, relate to the supervision of how to use the allocated budget.

For example, in terms of School Operational Aid Program (locally known as BOS), so far still creates several problems. Many schools still ask for "additional tuitions" from their students varies from one school to others. Consequently, poor students cannot afford to pay these "additional tuitions". Here, the supervision of school committee plays a very important role in order to control the school policy. Third, gender equality still becomes a significant challenge in Indonesia. Although the condition is relatively different from Nepal case as described by Stash and Hannum , particularly in the aspect that there is a connection between caste and gender stratification. On the other sides there is a similarity between the two countries. Stash and Hannum found that family played an important role in this gender stratification. This case is somewhat imilar to Indonesia. In this country, there are still many people living in rural and remote areas where women placed as a "second class" family member. They only need to study until elementary school because after that they will be housewives. They need not to work, because their husbands will work and earn money for them. Whereas such perception is rarely exist in urban areas. Thus, to solve this challenge, the government needs to widen the access for education to rural people such as life skill or vocational training. Based on the explanations above, it can be understood that there are still many challenges to upgrade the quality of education in Indonesia, particularly to achieve the Education for All (EFA) goals.Hence, the new elected government in 2009 must be consistent and focused on improving the quality of education in this country.

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