SEATTLE — In recent years, the Indonesian government made significant strides toward accessible education in Indonesia. However, as of 2012, only 51 percent of adolescents ages 15 to 18 attended school. This lack of attendance at the secondary and tertiary education levels makes it difficult for employment agencies to fill their ranks with qualified laborers. In order to address this issue, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently published a list of educational goals for Indonesia:
1. Give High Priority to Early Education
“Early childhood education lays the foundations for greater success further down the education pipeline, greater equity of opportunities and outcomes, and more efficient use of education system resources overall,” wrote the ADB. Fortunately, Indonesia greatly progressed in this sector, but the country still needs rapid expansion.
The Indonesian government only allocates 1.2 percent of its education budget to early education development. The ADB strongly encourages a change in this budget breakdown. This statistic needs to increase by at least three percentage points in order to meet current requirements.
2. Improve Participation in Basic Education
Children living in urban areas tend to receive a higher quality education in Indonesia than those in rural zones. Over the years, Indonesia’s urban areas progressed in their participation in standardized education, and for the most part, urban teachers are well-trained and well-equipped to teach their students. However, not only are school buildings scantily available in rural areas, but if a school house does exist, teachers oftentimes struggle to show up for class.
The ADB likens education in Indonesia to a “leaking pipeline”– students fall through cracks the further they get into their education. In some areas, the expectation for scholastic learning is so low that the greater capability a child has to provide financially for his or her family, the less likely it is that they will attend school.
This educational disconnect could improve through consistent contact between a teacher and their students, evaluating students’ progress, and more accountability between teachers and supervisors in monitoring students’ work. According to the ADB, the government should also be prepared to allocate more funds for the equal distribution of schools throughout the country. Hopefully, leaders will come to the realization that funding education is a positive investment for the future.
3. Create a Better System for the Allocation of Funds
The ADB observed that there is very little fiscal transparency at the Indonesian district level. The concern that the educational funds provided in many districts are not used for their intended purposes might have merit, as reports show that 75 percent of the schools in Indonesia fall below the requirement for minimum service standards.
To avoid this dilemma, each individual district could develop a set of goals to help it reach its level of minimum service standards relative to its own circumstances. All districts should be held accountable for the allocation of funds and receive training on how to most efficiently use the money towards improving students’ learning experiences.
4. Develop a Better System of Vocational Training
In Indonesia, technical-vocational education and training (TVET) are fractured efforts between the government, individual districts and the private sector. This convoluted system causes effort toward vocational development to be either duplicated or unavailable in many regions. Increased coordination is necessary between the parties involved in order to achieve a more efficient effort toward better vocational education for the students.
In many cases, TVET students are taught by teachers who possess little experience in the educational field. This lack of qualification often results in a student leaving his or her educational experience with inadequate skills to perform efficiently in the workplace.
As a solution, the ADB proposes consolidating these various TVET efforts into a single coordinated body. As for the teachers, the ADB suggests that they be given reciprocating contracts that allow them to move between their work in the field and their instruction in the classroom. In this way, all parties involved would be able to stay updated with the changes that occur in their area of expertise.
5. Increase Emphasis on Adult Education
Less than half of the Indonesian adult population has received higher than a primary education in Indonesia. Not 30 percent of individuals between the ages of 25 and 64 have attained a senior secondary education or higher. Gender inequality also runs rampant, as the literacy rates of women are half that of men.
Though many courses of action could be taken, the ADB suggests that in order to best increase adult levels of education, night classes in local colleges and vocational schools should be offered for the working adult. To address the issue of gender inequality, women should be given special classes that address a range of useful topics that enhance their abilities in everyday life.
Despite Indonesia’s progress in the past two decades, the educational field can still be improved upon. If the government continues to support educational programs and make gender and vocational improvements a priority, the Overseas Development Institute projects that in the near future, Indonesia will be able to reach their goal of providing everyone in its borders with an education.
– Preston Rust