Education in Indonesia: A White Elephant

Policy Research

After successfully improving access to education in the early 1990s through virtually universal primary school completion and similar positive trends at the senior secondary level in 2005, Indonesia began investing heavily in improving learning outcomes. For almost a decade, the country has been spending about a fifth of its public funds on education. In particular, teachers have received significant salary increases through a certification programme. This paper provides a long-run overview of numeracy and literacy among fifteen-year-old Indonesians using an international test, spanning from 2003 until 2015. It is found that improvements in learning levels are too small to justify the substantial investments that the country has undertaken. The government’s major education policies have not produced the expected results. It is argued that without adding accountability measures that focus on learning outcomes, there is little chance for the investments to provide noteworthy returns in the form of remarkably improved learning outcomes.

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Sandra Kurniawati
Daniel Suryadarma
Luhur Bima
Asri Yusrina
Sandra Kurniawati
Daniel Suryadarma
Research Area 
Research Topic 
learning outcomes
Publication Type 
Journal Article