More than 60% of the national education budget in Indonesia is used to improve teachers’ welfare. The budget is used in almost 100% of all regions in the country. However, raising salaries and providing teacher allowances do not necessarily improve the quality of learning or the number of school graduates.
What causes gains in student learning? When a policy change or intervention yields better student learning outcomes, this is cause for celebration. But if we want those learning gains to become a reality for other children in other contexts, we need to go beyond celebration toward analysing what exactly the intervention achieved—such as whether the learning gains were accompanied by undesirable side effects—and how exactly the intervention achieved it.
During the commemoration of the Teachers’ Day on November 25, Indonesia’s newly appointed Minister of Education and Culture Nadiem Makarim asked teachers to become the agents of change for the freedom to learn in the country.
Hikmat Hardono (Chairperson of Indonesia Mengajar, Member of RISE Programme in Indonesia Advisory Board) invites us to rethink the concept of student attendance and the one-size-fits-all policy that is still Jakartacentric even though students' conditions differ from Sabang to Merauke.
Teacher competence and professionalism play an important role in the success of student learning. As long as the government does not prioritise improving the quality of teachers or mapping the competence of teachers, it is difficult to imagine that the quality of education in Indonesia will be better.
Despite the low quality of student learning in Indonesia, student guardians rarely question this acute problem openly and en masse to teachers, schools, government, and parliament. Parents deal with their children’s poor learning outcome by signing them up to private lessons.
Indonesian central government devolved its authority over the education sector to local governments more than 18 years ago. Since then, the delivery of basic education services depends on the capabilities of more than 500 district administrations across Indonesia.
How can schools produce individuals with integrity? What is wrong with the existing system and the practice of learning in school for decades?