Human Capital in ECE in Indonesia

As, we mentioned in introduction, the human capital approach to ECE in Indonesia was introduced by the World Bank. Since 2001, the World Bank has assisted the Indonesian government to achieve an important milestone in ECE. Together with the Indonesian government, the World Bank established the Early Childhood Education and Development (ECED) project.

The idea of linking ECE with human capital in Indonesia was started in 2001 when a new directorate specifically dedicated to ECE was established within the Indonesian Ministry of Education (The World Bank, 2012). The following year, the government and the World Bank reestablished a program called Posyandu (previously known as clinic for babies) as part of a Smart Toddler program (Hasan et al., 2013). Posyandu is now seen as an integral part of young children’s development. Among the services provided by Posyandu is a health-check service and parenting classes for mothers. The Ministry of Education states that Posyandu has now become part of the integrative service of ECE (Posyandu Terintegrasi PAUD [Pendidikan Anak Usia Dini/ Early Childhood Education]) (2013). This, however, was often disputed as historically Posyandu was not established by the Ministry of Education but by the National Family Planning Board (Badan Keluarga Berencana Nasional, BKKB) and Ministry of Health (Saito, 2006). One could argue that the Ministry of Education’s statement that Posyandu is part of ECE is a claim to justify the success of human capital discourse in Indonesia. Many Posyandu centers were in fact transformed into nonformal ECE establishments because they already had the basic facilities required.

In 2003, another important step was achieved. The Indonesian government launched a national education system wherein ECE was considered a part of the national educational system (Hasan et al., 2013). However, the policy seems to be contradictory with the fact that ECE is still not part of a free and compulsory education. Education from primary school to junior high school is only free in Indonesia.

Once ECE was considered part of the national education system, nonformal ECE began to flourish. In 2004 the World Bank supported a pilot project in 11 districts in Indonesia (Hasan et al., 2013). Even though nonformal ECE centers have actually existed even since the New-Order government, it was after the release of national education law that ECE developed further and marked the establishment of nonformal ECE. Since then, the service of ECE in Indonesia has been provided by both formal and nonformal ECE. The terms “formal” and “nonformal” are quite problematic and confusing since they also show inconsistency in the Indonesian education system. Even the terms for addressing both of them are quite confusing. The formal ECE is called kindergarten while the nonformal one is called PAUD. The formal early childhood programs follow the curriculum of and are run by the Directorate General for the Management of Primary and Secondary Education through the Directorate of Kindergarten and Primary School. There is also a wide variety of programs called informal run by other ministries or NGOs including private companies like Gymboree. In addition to distinguishing between formal and nonformal ECE in terms of who organizes them, there are also other criteria such as age, with children up to age three generally receiving nonformal education and those between four and six likely to be enrolled in formal programs. However, informal programs do enroll some children in the latter age group.

The division between formal and nonformal ECE has created tension between the two. Bantuan Profesional Tim Pengembang Kurikulum (Professional Assistance of Curriculum Development Team) (2008) notes that there are various factors contributing to the tensions between the two. In villages where both formal and nonformal services of ECE have existed, friction between the teachers in each type of institutions has arisen. Teachers in the formal settings have often perceived teachers in the nonformal settings as less qualified. This may be due to the fact that most teachers working in the nonformal setting have been recruited from the community with no adequate background in education. The World Bank (2006) clearly states that for nonformal ECE, individuals trained to be ECED personnel are only required to have finished secondary school and have an interest in young children.

A useful argument is provided by the World Bank (n.d.) that sees the separation of ECE in Indonesia into formal and nonformal as the government’s attempt to involve more children from underprivileged families into ECE programs. Data from the World Bank indicates that when preschool education was limited to formal organizations, only children from wealthier families went to kindergarten and benefited from the program. It is also generally assumed that good ECE is associated with success in future academic achievement. In this sense, the nonformal ECE in Indonesia was established following the success of the vision of Head Start and Early Head Start programs in the United States, as well as Sure Start in the United Kingdom, which aim to provide services for poor children and families. The Indonesian government developed nonformal ECE as a means to include more children from underprivileged backgrounds. The distinction should then be perceived as a social necessity to provide the targeted children in Indonesia with high-quality early years education. By having a nonformal organization of ECE, its aim is to eventually reduce the disparity between disadvantaged and wealthier children in terms of their academic achievements and potential to excel in their future lives. ECE in this sense is again seen as a form of investment for both the children and the nation (Hasan et al., 2013; The World Bank, 2006). The distinction between nonformal and formal ECE can thus be perceived as a form of affirmative action to include more deprived children in the mainstream education system. However, Burman believes that affirmative action can sometimes perpetuate rather than diminish the differences between children from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Furthermore, she suggests that such intervention can also be perceived as a means of defining what is considered to be a normal child and thus exclude others who are considered abnormal (2008a).

These formal and nonformal ECE organizations in Indonesia are divided into five categories. The first one is kindergarten (Taman Kanak-kanak, TK) and Islamic kindergarten (Raudhatal Atfal, RA) whose organization is run by the Directorate General of Primary and Secondary School Service and Ministry of Religious Affairs. It is targeted at children of four to six years of age and treated as a formal organization of ECE (UNESCO, 2004, 2005).

The second one is a playgroup (Kelompok Bermain, KB), the third is childcare-centered (Tempat Penitipan Anak, TPA), the fourth one is integrated service post (Posyandu), and the last one is the mother’s program (Bina Keluarga Balita). All these were part of the nonformal organization of ECE and they all provide services to children in the age group of zero to six years (UNESCO, 2004, 2005). A summary of different types of ECE institutions provided by different ministries in Indonesia is presented in table 9.1.

Apart from their distinction, each category agrees on the following aims of ECE: to prepare young children for entering basic formal education; to assist them to achieve their best by providing a conducive environment; and to observe closely their developmental tasks (Department Pendidikan Nasional, 2006). It is clearly stated in National Educational Law number 20/2003, article 1l:14, that ECE is a “set of guidelines given to children from birth to six years old that are conducted through educational stimulation to assist children to develop fully, physically and spiritually, so that the children will be

Table 9.1 Different types of ECE institutions by different ministries in Indonesia

Ministry of Education and Culture

Ministry of



Ministry of Home Affairs with Ministry of Health Staff





Formal • Kindergarten


  • • I slamic kindergarten
  • (RA)

Nonformal • Playgroups (KB)

  • • ECED Posts (Pos-PAUD)
  • • Child care centers (Taman Penitipan Anak, TPA)
  • • Other early childhood units (Satuan PAUD Sejenis, SPS)

• I slamic kindergarten (Taman Pendidikan Quran, TPQ)

  • • Integrated health service unit
  • (Posyandu)
  • • Toddler family groups
  • (Bina




Note: The table was adapted from Hasan et al. (2013, p. 71).

ready to enter the higher education system.” Such intervention provided by ECE organizations in Indonesia is therefore perceived by the government as the most effective means of helping children.

In 2010 another important milestone was established. Formal and nonformal ECED merged under one directorate. It has to be noted that the merger relates to the bodies responsible for ECED. ECED services themselves remain divided into formal and nonformal services. At this time, they were all put under the Directorate General of ECED. The merging of the formal and nonformal ECED aimed to reduce tensions between the nonformal and formal services of ECE. However, in reality, tensions still persist between the two services. We will elaborate more on that in the following section of this chapter.

In 2006, the Indonesian government and the World Bank expanded the ECED project to 50 low-income districts that included almost 3,000 villages. This program was claimed to have brought almost 500,000 children to ECE (Human Development East Asia and Pacific Region, the World Bank, 2012). The World Bank argues that the program has improved the school readiness of children who come from underprivileged backgrounds in the village (Hasan et al., 2013).

The ECED project itself closed in 2013. The closing of the program, however, does not mean that ECED did not achieve its goals. In fact, it was argued that it had met its objectives and thus Indonesia is now ready to prepare for the new grand design of ECE (Hasan et al., 2013; Human Development East Asia and Pacific Region, the World Bank, 2012). The ECED milestones in Indonesia are summarized in table 9.2.

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