Major education reform since early 2000s

Subsequent administrations have launched radical political and administrative reforms based on democratic norms. At the end of 2000 under the Wahid administration, the Special Education Reform Council was launched as a precursor to the reform of the educational system. At the end of 2002, a bill on the National Education System was submitted to parliament. Necessary preparations commenced for the revision of various laws and regulations in line with the New National Education System Law for the smooth implementation of decentralisation in the education sector.

The main objective of the 2003 major revision of the National Education System Act no. 2 of 1989 was to review the entire education system comprehensively, operate more efficient and effective education administration, and realise high quality education services and drastic reform. The major revisions are as follows (all pages of MOEC 1991, Commission VI House of Representatives of RI 2003):

  • 1 Revision of the definition of compulsory education as being simply 'for 9 years’ to more specifically ‘7 years old until 15 years old’, although children may start as early as 6 years, and clarification of parental duties
  • 2 Free 9-year basic education
  • 3 Promotion of equity and equality of education
  • 4 Securing the opportunity for life-long education
  • 5 Decentralised approach
  • 6 Democratic approach
  • 7 Promotion of moral education through religious education
  • 8 Strengthening education on human rights and the environment
  • 9 Fostering respect of cultural diversity
  • 10 Responding to the trends of global society
  • 11 Improving the professionalism of educators and education personnel
  • 12 Establishing education boards and school committees
  • 13 Ensuring transparency and accountability in educational system management
  • 14 Clarifying curriculum development processes (the central government indicates the national framework, and school-level and relevant experts work on curriculum development under the guidance of the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Religion )
  • 15 Setting national education standards in 8 areas
  • 16 Contribution by local community in educational management
  • 17 Securing 20% of education budget (excluding salary) for both national and local governments

Regarding (13 and (16) in the preceding list, community participation in the planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and provision of resources was specified. Regarding (11), teachers must ensure an effective and learner-friendly environment for their students, demonstrate their professional commitment to quality improvement of education, and from kindergarten to university level be qualified with undergraduate degrees in teaching. In addition, it stipulates improvement in the welfare of teachers and education personnel.

The law also stipulates that national education is provided for the development of individual potential, personality formation, and capacity building, ensuring that everyone has the right to education for a lifetime without any discrimination. It also states that various effective ways and methods for learners should be applied in order to contribute to quality improvement of education. It also stipulates curriculum as 'a set of teaching plans showing the contents, teaching materials, and pedagogy for conducting learning activities to achieve the given goals.’ In addition, it stipulates that the National Education Standard (SPN: Standar Pendidikan Nasional) - which consists of content, processes, graduate outcomes, teachers, facilities & teaching materials, administration, finance, and evaluation -is supposed to be systematically and regularly updated.

It was feared that the serious economic crisis of the late 1990s would have a major impact on education in terms of two factors: decrease in enrolment rates and deterioration of education quality at the field level (Boediono & Dhanani, 1998, pp. 1-7). The government implemented a countermeasure, nationwide ‘Back to School Campaign’, which provided scholarships to needy groups and school operational grants (as block grants). It has been in force since 1998 with collaborative support from various development partners in the education sector. The implementation of this campaign was evaluated as having had a significant impact on the target groups and avoiding a significant rise in student dropouts. This programme was funded by foreign aid agencies until 2003. Afterwards, the government began a scholarship programme with independent funding resources (such as oil subsidies) using the same distribution mechanism. The form of support has also shifted from emergency to continuous support to students from needy families to access schooling.

The mechanism of the previously mentioned SGP programme (scholarship and grant programme) has been followed by the ongoing School Operational Subsidy Programme (Bantuan Operational Sekolah: BOS). The programme is notable not only for its success as a nationwide, highly effective campaign to prevent school decline but also as the first case of community participation in monitoring the allocation process of subsidies and scholarships by parents, local residents, the media, and the entire civil society. Sampling surveys have confirmed that approximately 97 per cent of grants and scholarships have properly reached the target population. When it was said that government corruption was widespread, the SGP programme gained a reputation as a revolutionarily clean programme. Subsequent educational grant programmes have applied this SGP mechanism.

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