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Education in Indonesia

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Education in Indonesia

Education in Indonesia
Ministry of Education and Culture
Ministry of Religious Affairs
Minister of Education and Culture
Minister of Religious Affairs
Anies Baswedan
Lukman Hakim Saifuddin
National education budget (2014)
Budget US $7.098 billion
General details
Primary languages Indonesian
System type Curriculum
Competency-based curriculum October 14, 2004
Literacy (2005)
Total 90.4
Male 94.0
Female 86.8
Primary 31.8 million
Secondary 18.6 million
The students in pramuka (boy scout) uniform studying. The scouting uniform usually worn on either Friday or Saturday.
The students listen the explanation and examine the model of Jawi temple during their study tour at Trowulan Museum, East Java.

Education in Indonesia is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Culture (Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan or Kemdikbud) and the Ministry of Religious Affairs (Kementerian Agama or Kemenag). In Indonesia, all citizens must undertake nine years of compulsory education which consists of six years at elementary level and three in secondary level. Islamic schools are under the responsibility of the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Education is defined as a planned effort to establish a study environment and educational process so that the student may actively develop his/her own potential in religious and spiritual level, consciousness, personality, intelligence, behavior and creativity to him/herself, other citizens and the nation. The Constitution also notes that there are two types of education in Indonesia: formal and non-formal. Formal education is further divided into three levels: primary, secondary and tertiary education.

Schools in Indonesia are run either by the government (negeri) or private sectors (swasta). Some private schools refer to themselves as "national plus schools" which means that they intend to go beyond the minimum government requirements, especially with the use of English as medium of instruction or having an international-based curriculum instead of the national one.


  • History 1
    • Early kingdoms 1.1
    • Era of Islamic states 1.2
    • Colonial era 1.3
    • Recent history 1.4
  • Early education 2
  • Public primary and secondary education 3
    • School grades 3.1
    • Curriculum 3.2
    • 2013 Curriculum 3.3
  • Islamic schools 4
  • Higher education 5
    • Indonesian degrees 5.1
    • Foreign university 5.2
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Early kingdoms

Educations system in the era of Hindu-Buddhist civilization is called karsyan. Karsyan is a place of hermitage. This method was highly religious, aimed to draw oneself closer to God.

Era of Islamic states

The emergence of Islamic state in Indonesia is noted by the acculturation of both Islamic tradition and Hindu-Buddhist tradition. At this time period, pondok pesantren, a type of Islamic boarding school was introduced and several of them were established. The location of pesantren is mostly faraway from the hustling crowd of the city, resembling the location of Karsyan.

Colonial era

Elementary education was introduced by the Dutch in Indonesia during the colonial era. Initially, it was reserved for the Dutch (and other Europeans) only. In 1870, with the growth of Dutch Ethical Policy formulated by Conrad Theodor van Deventer, some of these Dutch-founded schools opened the doors for pribumi (lit. native Indonesians). They were called Sekolah Rakjat (lit. folk school), the embryo of what is called Sekolah Dasar (lit. elementary school) today.[1]

The Dutch introduced a system of formal education for the local population of Indonesia, although this was restricted to certain privileged children. The system they introduced was roughly similar to the current structure, with the following levels:

  • ELS (Dutch: Europeesche Lagere School) - Primary School for Europeans
  • HIS (Dutch: Hollandsch-Inlandsche School) - Primary School for Natives
  • MULO (Dutch: Meer Uitgebreid Lager Onderwijs) - Middle School
  • AMS (Dutch: Algeme(e)ne Middelbare School) - High School or College
  • HBS (Dutch:Hogere Burger School) - Pre-University

The segregation between Dutch and Indonesian in education pushed several Indonesian figures to start educational institutions for local people. Arab Indonesians founded Jamiat Kheir in 1905, Ahmad Dahlan founded Muhammadiyah in November 1912, and Ki Hajar Dewantara founded Taman Siswa in July 1922. Pesantrens were also mushrooming rapidly during this time period.[2]

The Dutch colonial government also established a number of universities for native Indonesian on the island of Java, such as:[3]

By the 1930s, the Dutch had introduced limited formal education to nearly every province of the Dutch East Indies.

Recent history

Great progress has been made toward the goal of universal education since 1973, when nearly 20 percent of youth were illiterate.[4] At that time, then-President Suharto issued an order to set aside portions of oil revenues for the construction of new primary schools.[4] This act resulted in the construction or repair of nearly 40,000 primary-school facilities by the late 1980s, and literacy rates improved significantly nationwide.[4] During 1997–98, the financial crisis affected the poorest families the most, resulting in their selectively cutting back on their education expenditures.[4] Government funding struggled to keep up with rising costs during this period, but by 2002, according to the World Bank, only 2 percent of those between the ages of 15 and 24 could not read, and by 2009, the adult literacy rate was 90.4 percent.[4]

Early education

Pre-School education in Indonesia is covered under PAUD (Pendidikan Anak Usia Dini, lit. Early Age Education) that covers Taman Bermain (playgroup) and Taman Kanak-Kanak (kindergarten, abbreviated as TK). PAUD is under direct supervision and coverage of Directorate of Early Age Education Development (Direktorat Pengembangan Pendidikan Anak Usia Dini). From the age of 2, parents send their children to attend Taman Bermain. From the age of 4, they attend Taman Kanak-Kanak. Most TK arrange the classes into two grades, grade A and grade B, which are informally called kelas nol kecil (little zero grade) and kelas nol besar (big zero grade) respectively. While this level of education is not compulsory for Indonesian citizens, it is aimed to prepare them for primary schooling. Of the 49,000 kindergartens in Indonesia, 99.35% are privately operated schools.[5] The kindergarten years are usually divided into "Class A" and "Class B" students spending a year in each class.

Public primary and secondary education

Indonesians are required to attend twelve years of school.[6] They must go to school six (or five, depending on the institution) days a week from 7:00 a.m. until afternoon (usually 2 or 3 p.m.).[4] They can choose between state-run, nonsectarian public schools supervised by the Department of National Education (Depdiknas) or private or semi-private religious (usually Islamic) schools supervised and financed by the Department of Religious Affairs.[4] Students can also choose to participate in extracurricular activities provided by the school such as sports, arts, or religious studies.[4] However, although 86.1 percent of the Indonesian population is registered as Muslim, according to the 2000 census only 15 percent of school-age individuals attended religious schools.[4] Overall enrollment figures are slightly higher for girls than boys and much higher in Java than the rest of Indonesia.[4]

A central goal of the national education system is not merely to impart secular wisdom about the world but also to instruct children in the principles of participation in the modern nation-state, its bureaucracies, and its moral and ideological foundations.[4] Beginning under Guided Democracy (1959–65) and strengthened in the New Order after 1975, a key feature of the national curriculum—as was the case for other national institutions—has been instruction in the Pancasila.[4] Children age six and older learned by rote its five principles—belief in one God, humanitarianism, national unity, democracy, and social justice—and were instructed daily to apply the meanings of this key national symbol to their lives.[4] But with the end of the New Order in 1998 and the beginning of the campaign to decentralize the national government, provincial and district-level administrators obtained increasing autonomy in determining the content of schooling, and Pancasila began to play a diminishing role in the curriculum.[4]

A style of pedagogy prevails inside public-school classrooms that emphasizes rote learning and deference to the authority of the teacher.[4] Although the youngest children are sometimes allowed to use their local language, by the third year of primary school nearly all instruction is conducted in Indonesian.[4] Teachers customarily do not ask questions of individual students; rather, a standard teaching technique is to narrate a historical event or to describe a mathematical problem, pausing at key junctures to allow the students to call out responses that "fill in the blanks".[4] By not identifying individual problems of students and retaining an emotionally distanced demeanor, teachers are said to show themselves to be patient, which is considered admirable behavior.[4]

Children aged 6–11 attend primary school, called Sekolah Dasar (SD).[4] Most elementary schools are government-operated public schools, accounting for nearly 93% of all elementary schools in Indonesia.[7] Students spend six years in primary school, though some schools offer an accelerated learning program in which students who perform well can complete the level in five years.

Three years of junior secondary school (Sekolah Menengah Pertama, or SMP), which follows elementary school.[4]

After completion of them, they may be attend senior secondary school (Sekolah Menengah Atas or SMA); or students can choose among 47 programmes of vocational and pre-professional senior secondary schools (Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan or SMK), divided in the following fields: technology and engineering, health, arts, craft and tourism, information and communication technologies, agro-business and agro-technology, business management. Each requires three years of study.[8] There are academic and vocational junior high schools that lead to senior-level diplomas. There are also "domestic science" junior high schools for girls.[4] At the senior high school level, three-year agricultural, veterinary, and forestry schools are open to students who have graduated from an academic junior high school.[4] Special schools at the junior and senior levels teach hotel management, legal clerking, plastic arts, and music.[4]

Students with disabilities/special needs may alternately opt to be enrolled in a separate school from the mainstream called Sekolah Luar Biasa (lit. Extraordinary School).

The completion rate for Indonesian primary schools is high.[4] Indeed, 100 percent of the relevant age-group had completed primary education as of 2003.[4] The gross enrollment rate for primary schools was 100 percent, but it decreased to 62 percent for secondary schools and 16 percent for post-secondary schools.[4] There were nearly equal numbers of girls and boys in primary and secondary schools; in the late 2000s, the ratio was 96.7 girls to 100 boys.[4] Depdiknas reported that in school year 2007–8 there were 63,444 kindergartens, with a total enrollment of 2.8 million pupils and 176,061 teachers.[4] Later statistics are available for primary and secondary levels for school year 2008–9.[4] They indicate that there were 144,228 primary schools, with a total enrollment of 26.9 million students and 1.5 million teachers; 28,777 junior secondary schools, with a total enrollment of 8.9 million students and 629,036 teachers; 10,762 general senior secondary schools, with a total enrollment of 3.8 million students and 314,389 teachers; and 7,592 vocational senior secondary schools, with a total enrollment of 3 million students and 246,018 teachers.[4] Additionally, there were 1,686 special education schools from kindergarten to senior secondary levels, with a total enrollment of 73,322 and 18,047 teachers.[4]

Teacher-training programs are varied and gradually being upgraded. For example, in the 1950s anyone completing a teacher-training program at the junior high school level could obtain a teacher’s certificate.[4] Since the 1970s, however, primary-school teachers have been required to have graduated from a senior high school for teachers, and teachers of higher grades have been required to have completed a university-level education course.[4] Remuneration for primary- and secondary-school teachers, although low, compares favorably with that in other Asian countries such as Malaysia, India, and Thailand.[4] Student–teacher ratios also compare satisfactorily with those in many Asian nations: They were 23.4 to 1 and 18.8 to 1, respectively, for primary and secondary schools in 2004; that same year, the overall averages for Asia-Pacific countries were 22 to 1 and 18 to 1, respectively.[4]

By 2008, the staff shortage in Indonesia's schools was no longer as acute as in the 1980s, but serious difficulties remain, particularly in the areas of teacher salaries, teacher certification, and finding qualified personnel.[4] In many remote areas of the Outer Islands, in particular, there is a severe shortage of qualified teachers, and some villages have school buildings but no teachers, books, or supplies.[4] Providing textbooks and other school equipment to Indonesia’s 37 million schoolchildren throughout the far-flung archipelago continues to be a significant problem as well, especially in more remote areas.[4]

School grades

The school year is divided into two semesters. The first commences in July and ends in December while the latter commences in January and ends in June.

Level/Grade Typical age
Pre-school playgroup 3-4
Kindergarten 4-6
Primary School
1st Grade 6–7
2nd Grade 7–8
3rd Grade 8–9
4th Grade 9–10
5th Grade 10–11
6th Grade 11–12
Middle School
7th Grade 12-13
8th Grade 13-14
9th Grade 14-15
High School
10th Grade 15–16
11th Grade 16–17
12th Grade 17–18
Post-secondary education
Tertiary education (College or University) Ages vary (usually four years,
referred to as Freshman,
Sophomore, Junior and
Senior years)
Graduate education
Adult education


Disciplines Subjects Grade
# Name # Name Primary School Middle School High School
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th (NS) 12th (NS) 11th (SS) 12th (SS) 11th (H) 12th (H)
1 Education 1 Religion Green tickY
2 Civics
3 Physical Education
4 Information Technology and Communication
2 Language (and Literature) 1 Indonesian Language Green tickY
2 English Language
3 Traditional/Local Language (Sundanese, Javanese, Balinese, et al.)
4 Foreign Language (Mandarin, Arabic, Japanese, German, French, Korean, et al.)
3 Natural sciences 1 Mathematics Green tickY
2 Physics Green tickY Red XN
3 Biology
4 Chemistry Red XN Green tickY
4 Social sciences 1 History Green tickY
2 Geography Green tickY Red XN Green tickY Red XN
3 Economics
4 Sociology Red XN Green tickY
5 Humanities 1 Anthropology Red XN Green tickY
2 Indonesian Literature
3 Foreign Language (Higher Level)
6 Arts 1 Music Green tickY Red XN
2 Painting
3 Skill
4 Dancing
Total subjects 13 16 13

2013 Curriculum

Discipline Subjects Grade
# Name # Name Primary school [9] Middle school [10] High school [11]
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
1 Education 1 Religion 4 3 2
2 Pancasila and civics 6 2
3 Physical education 4 2
4 Prakarya n/a 2
2 Language (and literature) 1 Indonesian language 6 4
2 English language n/a 4
3 Natural sciences 1 Mathematics 6 4
2 Physics n/a 1.5 2 n/a
3 Biology n/a 1.5 2 n/a
4 Social sciences 1 History n/a 1 2
2 Geography n/a 1 n/a
3 Economics n/a 1 n/a
5 Arts 1 Music 1
2 Painting 1
3 Skill 1 n/a
4 Dance 1 n/a
6 N/A 1 Peminatan Akademik n/a 2
2 Kelompok Peminatan n/a 16
Total hour subjects 30 36 42
Total subjects 6 8 10 14
Specialization groups (kelompok peminatan)
# Natural sciences Social sciences Language and literature Total hour
1 Mathematics History Indonesian language 4
2 Physics Geography English language 4
3 Biology Economics Traditional/Local language 4
4 Chemistry Sociology Foreign language 4

Islamic schools

The secular and nationalist emphasis in public schools has been resisted by some of the Muslim majority.[4] A distinct and vocal minority of these Muslims prefer to place their children in a pesantren (Islamic boarding school), or Islamic school.[4] Usually located in rural areas and directed by a Muslim scholar, pesantren are attended by young people seeking a detailed understanding of the Quran, the Arabic language, the sharia, and Muslim traditions and history, as well as more modern subjects such as English, mathematics, and geography. Students can enter and leave the pesantren any time of the year, and the studies are not organized as a progression of courses leading to graduation.[4] Although the chief aim of pesantren is to produce good Muslims, they do not share a single stance toward Islam or a position on secularism.[4] Some pesantren emphasize the autonomy of modern students to think for themselves and to interpret scripture and modern knowledge in a way that is consistent with the teachings of Islam.[4] Others are more traditional and stress the importance of following the wisdom of elders, including their teachings on science, religion, and family life.[4] Although the terrorist bombings in Kuta, Bali, in 2002 raised suspicions about whether pesantren promote extremist views, the majority of these schools in Indonesia are theologically moderate, reflecting the views of the Indonesian population as a whole.[4] For those who opt for a pesantren education, a sixth-grade equivalency certificate is available after successful completion of a state test.[4]

In order for students to adapt to life in the modern nation-state, in the 1970s the Muslim-dominated Department of Religion (now the Department of Religious Affairs) advocated the spread of a newer variety of Muslim school, the madrassa.[4] This kind of school integrates religious subjects from the pesantren with secular subjects from the Western-style public-education system.[4] Although in general the public believes that Islamic schools offer lower-quality education, among Islamic schools a madrassa is ranked lower than a pesantren.[4]

Madrasah Ibtidaiyah (MI) is the Islamic schooling alternative to SD, following a curriculum with more focus on Arabic and Islam. Madrasah Tsanawiyah (MTs) is the Islamic schooling equivalent of SMP. Madrasah Aliyah (MA) is the Islamic schooling equivalent of SMA while Madrasah Aliyah Kejuruan (MAK) is the equivalent of SMK.

Higher education

The higher education institution is categorized into two types: public and private. Both are supervised by the Ministry of National Education. There are four types of higher education institution: universities, institutes, academies, and polytechnics.
University of Indonesia Main Library

Indonesia's institutions of higher education have experienced dramatic growth since independence.[4] In 1950 there were 10 institutions of higher learning with a total of about 6,500 students. In 1970, 450 private and state institutions enrolled about 237,000 students, and by 1990 there were 900 institutions with about 141,000 teachers and nearly 1.5 million students.[4] By 2009 there were 2,975 institutions of higher education and more than 4.2 million students.[4] Of these institutions, 3 percent were public, with 57.1 percent of the student enrollment, and 97 percent were private, with 42.9 of the student enrollment.[4] Even though government subsidies finance approximately 80 to 90 percent of state-university budgets, universities have considerably more autonomy in curriculum and internal structure than do primary and secondary schools.[4] Whereas, tuition in such state institutions is more affordable than private-university tuition, enabling attendance by students from relatively modest backgrounds, faculty salaries are low by international standards. Lecturers often have other jobs outside the university to supplement their wages.[4]

Private universities are generally operated by foundations.[4] Unlike state universities, private institutions have budgets that are almost entirely tuition-driven. A onetime registration fee (which can be quite high) is determined at the time of entry.[4] Universities with a religious affiliation may receive donations or grants from religious organisations.[4] The government provides only limited scholarship support for students wishing to attend private universities.[4]

Most of the 6,000 foreign students studying in Indonesian universities hail from Malaysia. In particular, they are in the fields of medicine, pharmacy, literature, humanities, Islamic studies and engineering. The majority are sponsored by the Malaysian government. These foreign students are dispersed across Indonesia in almost all public universities such as Universitas Sumatera Utara, University of Indonesia, Gadjah Mada University, Bandung Institute of Technology[12] and also in private institutions such as Universitas Kristen Krida Wacana (UKRIDA).

Indonesian degrees

Type of degree Indonesian term Equivalent in English-speaking countries
Diploma 1 (D1) Profesional ahli pratama Associate degree
Diploma 2 (D2) Profesional ahli muda Associate degree
Diploma 3 (D3) Profesional ahli madya Associate degree
Diploma 4 (D4) Sarjana sains terapan Bachelor's degree
Sarjana 1 (S1) Sarjana Bachelor's degree
Sarjana 2 (S2) Magister Master's degree
Sarjana 3 (S3) Doktor Doctoral degree

Foreign university

Foreign universities can operate in Indonesia, but they are required to cooperate with local universities. A final and binding Constitutional Court has rejected a judicial review proposed by six students to refuse foreign universities to operate in Indonesia.[13]

See also


  1. ^ "Nicht verfügbar". Retrieved 2012-11-01. 
  2. ^ "Sedikit Uraian Sejarah Pendidikan Indonesia « Tinulad". Retrieved 2012-11-01. 
  3. ^ "Hendry's Site - 1. SEKOLAH MENENGAH". 1946-04-10. Retrieved 2012-11-01. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg Kuipers, Joel C. "Education". In Indonesia: A Country Study (William H. Frederick and Robert L. Worden, eds.). Library of Congress Federal Research Division (2011).  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ Kindergarten statistics between 2004-2005
  6. ^ "RI kicks off 12-year compulsory education program". Jakarta Post. 26 June 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  7. ^ Primary School statistics between 2004-2005
  8. ^ UNESCO-UNEVOC (July 2013). "Vocational Education in Indonesia". Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  9. ^ [1] Kurikulum SD 2013
  10. ^ [2] Kurikulum SMP 2013
  11. ^ [3] Kurikulum SMA 2013
  12. ^ "Foreign students in Indonesia mostly Malaysians". 2011-05-23. Retrieved 2012-11-01. 
  13. ^ "Foreign universities may operate in RI: MK". December 14, 2013. 

External links

  • (English) World Bank data on education in Indonesia
  • Vocational Education in Indonesia - UNESCO UNEVOC (2013)
  • (Dutch) Primary education in the Dutch East Indies
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