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Towards better education quality: Indonesia’s promising path

Research reports

Written by Joseph Wales

The Government of Indonesia (GoI) has enacted a series of reforms to improve the quality of education, motivated and enabled by the transition to democracy following the East Asian crisis and the fall of Suharto in 1998, which saw a new emphasis on the need for a skilled workforce and also a shift in power towards the lower and middle classes. The reforms and key drivers of progress discussed in this report include strengthening the teaching force, reforming the curriculum and pedagogy, progress in decentralisation and school-based management, and increased expenditure alongside targeted support intended to address inequities.

Gains achieved in terms of enhancing the quality of education remain work in progress – improvements in educational outcomes have not overcome persistent regional and socio-economic inequities (although maths and reading scores improved across all socio-economic deciles between 2003 and 2009). There are also questions concerning the financial sustainability of teaching reforms; early childhood care and education (ECCE) have not received sufficient attention; and the overall quality of basic education still fails to equip students for employment.

The diversity of reforms that have been tried and the use of research and evaluation to inform policy make Indonesia’s experience a particularly interesting case study with some useful lessons to offer, particularly for decentralised middleincome countries (MICs) looking to move from improved access to education towards a focus on better quality.

Julia Tobias, Joseph Wales, Ekki Syamsulhakim and Suharti