Education in Indonesia: A White Elephant?

Sandra Kurniawati, Daniel Suryadarma, Luhur Bima, Asri Yusrina
Working Paper, July, 2018, Final



After successfully improving access to education in the early 1990s, with virtually universal primary school completion and similarly positive trends in senior secondary level, Indonesia began investing to improve learning outcomes since 2005. For almost a decade, the country has been spending about one-fifth of its public funds on education. Teachers have received significant salary increases through the certification program. In this paper, we provide a long-run overview of numeracy and literacy among 15-year-old Indonesians using an international test, spanning 2003–2015. We find that improvements in learning levels are too small to justify the significant investments that the country has undertaken. We also show that the government’s major education policies have not produced expected results. We argue that without adding accountability measures that focus on learning outcomes, there is little chance for the investments to provide significant returns in the form of significantly improved learning outcomes.

Keywords: Education, learning outcomes, policy, Indonesia

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