FEA­TURE STORY

By and large, expats in In­done­sia send their kids to pri­vate in­ter­na­tional schools. If your fam­ily is com­ing from a semi-de­vel­oped mar­ket with a half­way de­cent ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem – and you earn at least a mid-level salary – pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion in the na­tion i

Indonesia Expat - - COTENTS - By Leighton Cosse­boom

The Gap be­tween Pub­lic and Pri­vate Ed­u­ca­tion in In­done­sia

Global Busi­ness Guide says pri­vate in­ter­na­tional schools are un­doubt­edly on the rise in In­done­sia. This ap­plies to both lo­cal and for­eign stu­dents, and ac­cord­ing to the France-based in­vest­ments por­tal, a su­pe­rior ed­u­ca­tion is in high de­mand in the na­tion’s vi­brant econ­omy, where tens of mil­lions join the job mar­ket ev­ery year. Com­pe­ti­tion is par­tic­u­larly high for po­si­tions at multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions, mak­ing a rep­utable de­gree a de facto pre­req­ui­site for fresh grad­u­ates to be taken se­ri­ously. Schools in In­done­sia are run ei­ther by the gov­ern­ment or by pri­vate op­er­a­tors. Some pri­vate schools re­fer to them­selves as ‘na­tional plus schools,’ which means that their cur­ricu­lums go beyond the re­quire­ments put forth by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, such as the use of English as medium of in­struc­tion or by hav­ing an in­ter­na­tional-based cur­ricu­lum in­stead of the na­tional one. Ac­cord­ing to data from the World Bank, there are more than 250,000 schools in the ar­chi­pel­ago, but pri­vate schools do play an im­por­tant role. While only 7 per­cent of pri­mary schools are pri­vate, the fig­ure in­creases to a stag­ger­ing 56 per­cent at the ju­nior- sec­ondary level and 67 per­cent at the se­nior-sec­ondary level. The Law on Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion (No.20/2003) and the Con­sti­tu­tion Amend­ment III em­pha­size that all In­done­sian cit­i­zens have the right to an ed­u­ca­tion. The gov­ern­ment has an obli­ga­tion to fi­nance ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion with­out charg­ing fees, and in ef­fect, the gov­ern­ment is man­dated to al­lo­cate 20 per­cent of its ex­pen­di­ture to ed­u­ca­tion. The coun­try also re­cently im­ple­mented the In­done­sia Smart Card pro­gramme, which al­lows poor stu­dents to study in pub­lic schools for free un­til high school. But in the coun­try’s re­mote and ru­ral ar­eas, pol­icy mak­ers and in­dus­try stake­hold­ers are hard-pressed to pro­vide uni­ver­sal ac­cess to ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion. This makes the over­all qual­ity of pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion in In­done­sia suf­fer dra­mat­i­cally. In other words, while pub­lic schools in DKI Jakarta may have de­cent qual­ity, the same can­not be said for their ru­ral Su­lawesi coun­ter­parts. Since the 1970s, In­done­sia has in­creased its pri­mary and ju­nior- sec­ondary en­rol­ment rates sub­stan­tially. In the past ten years, it has nar­rowed the gap in school com­ple­tion rates be­tween rich and poor stu­dents and be­tween those from ru­ral and ur­ban ar­eas. Since 2009, the gov­ern­ment claims to have al­lo­cated a fifth of its an­nual bud­get to ed­u­ca­tion as re­quired by law. How­ever, it’s im­por­tant to note that this is not tak­ing into ac­count in­stances of graft and cor­rup­tion in the ed­u­ca­tion space. But with all of this in mind, ac­cord­ing to data from

The Econ­o­mist, progress in pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion has more vari­ables and caveats than merely fund­ing is­sues. Pri­mary en­rol­ment rates in af­flu­ent dis­tricts (think Bumi Ser­pong Da­mai) are close to 100 per­cent. In some poorer dis­tricts (think Gorontalo Prov­ince), they re­main be­low 60 per­cent. The num­ber of teach­ers across the na­tion are also dis­pro­por­tion­ately dis­trib­uted. In terms of ru­ral schools be­ing un­der­staffed, in re­cent years, for­mer Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion Anies Baswedan (cur­rent can­di­date in Jakarta’s gu­ber­na­to­rial elec­tion) told the busi­ness me­dia, “[if a school is near a main road] I can guar­an­tee it has more teach­ers than it needs. But if it’s two or three kilo­me­tres from that road, it won’t have enough.” To over­come the un­even teacher dis­tri­bu­tion, in re­cent years, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and Cul­ture pledged to work closely with lo­cal gov­ern­ments at the pro­vin­cial, city and district lev­els to im­prove teacher al­lo­ca­tion in needy ar­eas. “If the teacher al­lo­ca­tion can be op­ti­mally man­aged, ar­eas that have a sur­plus of teach­ers can be trans­ferred to nearby dis­tricts,” said Muham­mad Hamid, Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Pri­mary Ed­u­ca­tion at the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and Cul­ture. Ad­di­tion­ally, when look­ing at the na­tion as a whole, pub­lic school teach­ers are un­der-trained for their roles. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by USAID, only 60 per­cent of the 1.85 mil­lion el­e­men­tary school teach­ers in In­done­sia have bach­e­lor de­grees. Ac­cord­ing to the 2015 Pro­gramme for In­ter­na­tional Stu­dents As­sess­ment (PISA) sur­vey from Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co- op­er­a­tion and Devel­op­ment, In­done­sia’s 15-year- olds scored far be­low the me­dian aver­age for com­pe­tency in sci­ence, with read­ing, mathematics and col­lab­o­ra­tive prob­lem solv­ing as mi­nor ar­eas of as­sess­ment. For these rea­sons and more, a grow­ing num­ber of par­ents are happy to con­sider pay­ing for pri­vate in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion or ‘na­tional plus’ schools to max­i­mize their kids’ post- grad­u­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties in the coun­try's in­creas­ingly glob­al­ized econ­omy. How­ever, it’s im­por­tant for par­ents to do their home­work. A lack of le­gal frame­work for what pri­vate and in­ter­na­tional schools are al­lowed to set as bench­marks can some­times lead to a dis­par­ity in ed­u­ca­tion qual­ity. With the gov­ern­ment also throw­ing its hat into the ring in cer­tain cases, con­fu­sion may arise. In 2014, the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry is­sued a reg­u­la­tion that said In­done­sian- owned in­ter­na­tional schools must re­move the in­ter­na­tional from their name, while In­done­sian stu­dents at these schools will be re­quired to study sev­eral ad­di­tional sub­jects and par­tic­i­pate in the same na­tional ex­am­i­na­tions that stu­dents of state schools must un­dergo. The man­date was un­clear, and only a hand­ful of schools were af­fected, in­clud­ing Jakarta In­ter­na­tional School, which has since re­branded to Jakarta In­ter­cul­tural School. Reg­u­la­tions like this and oth­ers have caused some con­fu­sion over the years about which schools are in­deed pri­vate. If you are new to In­done­sia and care about how your child’s early ed­u­ca­tion will af­fect her abil­ity to com­pete on a global level, it would be wise to take a closer look at the school you’re lean­ing to­wards. Re­gard­less of what the gov­ern­ment is say­ing in any given year, the im­por­tant part is to un­der­stand the school’s track record. Make sure it has the proper in­ter­na­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tions, and if you can, try to get verified sta­tis­tics on which uni­ver­si­ties the school’s stu­dents end up at af­ter grad­u­a­tion. These ac­tions, along with cul­ti­vat­ing re­la­tion­ships with teach­ers and staff, should help you make an in­formed de­ci­sion.

“If you are new to In­done­sia and care about how your child’s early ed­u­ca­tion will af­fect her abil­ity to com­pete on a global level, it would be wise to take a closer look at the school you’re lean­ing to­wards.”

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