The most talented individuals organize production processes, discover, and innovate. These roles make talented individuals more important than ordinary labor. This paper is the first step to understand talented individuals in Indonesia. First, we use an international benchmark to estimate the number of students that could be considered as highly skilled. We then examine their background and the schools that they go to. We use three rounds of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). We find that Indonesia has a minuscule proportion of highly skilled individuals. Out of a cohort size of 3.1 million 15-year old students, Indonesia only had around 0.46% or 14,300 individuals with high mathematics skills and 0.06% or 1,900 individuals with high literacy skills in 2015. Our analysis shows that skills are associated with having tertiary-educated mothers and favorable socioeconomic status. These skilled individuals cluster in a handful of schools. These schools have a higher proportion of certified teachers. Students within these schools have similar characteristics, indicating the strong influence of parental choice. Our findings point to the need for Indonesia, and perhaps other similar middle-income countries, to have an active policy to identify and nurture talent.
Keywords: talent, skills, education, Indonesia.