Indonesian Govenment Education Reforms or Reactions

A website called International Schools Review has just published the following ‘breaking news’

Teaching in Indonesia May Be Out Next Year!

In 2013 an alarming education policy will take effect in Indonesia. The new legislation, Peraturan Pemerintah Republik Indonesia Nomor 17 tahun 2010, has far-reaching implications for international educators wishing to teach in Indonesia. Here are the basics of the legislation as explained to ISR:

1. “National Plus Schools” [nat’l curriculum + internat’l curriculum, eg: Cambridge] will now be called “International Schools.” This means that for every foreign teacher there must be 3 local Indonesian teachers. Foreign teachers will only be allowed to teach English and Nothing more, as all other subjects will be taught by locals.

2. Schools currently called “International Schools” will become “Foreign Schools.” NO Indonesian citizens will be allowed to attend these schools.

It appears international teachers in Indonesia will be relegated to teaching ESL


This law was issued in 2010 (if I recall correctly) and there is a lot more to it than just those two statements. In fact I think the comment about No Indonesian citizens being allowed to attend foreign schools is incorrect, it is a misinterpretation of two elements of the Peraturan Pemerintah Republik. Firstly, all Indonesian students must study the national curriculum, including religion classes, if they want to go to an Indonesian University and that foreign schools are not allowed to teach the national curriculum. Thus limiting the ability of Indonesian students to attend a foreign school.

When it was first issued there was, predictably an outcry, and the solution at the time was to put it off, hence the 2013 date. Many feel that a further delay will be applied. Also this is the law, but the actual regulations to make it happen have not yet been decided. Any fear mongering on this topic is usually based on interpretations of how this regulation will be applied.

It is no secret the education is now big business on Indonesia, a plethora of schools and international schools have sprung up of varying degrees of quality. Hordes of foreign  teachers arrive in the country each year ready to start being inducted into their new schools. On one hand one cannot blame the Indonesian government for wanting to look after their teachers and protect their curriculum on the other, if they really wanted to achieve something then actually doing something concrete like rising salaries beyond $25 – $300 per month might be a good start, ensuring the education budget actually makes it to the schools that it is supposed to and checking that the teachers college actually teaches teachers how to teach.

But no, it is much easier to issue some new laws showing that the education department and government have little idea of how things actually work in Indonesia. Our school would happily employ more Indonesian teachers if only we could find quality teachers, we cannot, it is that simple. To tell us that we now need to have 3 Indonesians for every 1 expat is not going to change that equation.

I can see how they want to protect their national curriculum, but a curriculum full of rote learning of facts with little understanding, critical thinking or analysis is bound to fail. Previously, students who had not completed the national exams could just do a make up example, called Paket C in order to enter Universities. Funnily enough, the Universities do not have much faith in the national curriculum either, and many were demanding the students sit alternative University Entrance exams. (designed by the Universities, not by the education department)

I do not think the new regulation is xenophobic so much as an immature example of wanting ‘their’ curriculum to be as good as an international one. Will I panic ? No, there is still much to be done to make it into practice, and like all things in Indonesia people will either blatantly ignore it or find a workable solution.


About Pak Liam

Living, teaching and traveling in Asia.
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One Response to Indonesian Govenment Education Reforms or Reactions

  1. Pingback:   Keep us posted! — Stutzfamily blog thingie

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