Friday, 17 November 2017

How Philanthropists Can Help Transform Indonesia’s Education System

Almost two thirds of Indonesian students perform below the minimum levels in mathematics in the OECD PISA examinations, and 55% are below minimum levels in reading.

How to reform this enormous education system – with 50 million students it’s the fourth-largest in the world – is the subject of a new report from the Asia Philanthropy Circle, supported by Tanoto Foundation.

The report, Catalysing Productive Livelihood, is designed as a guide for philanthropists wanting to make a difference to the country’s education system.

Indonesia has made significant improvement in recent years. 97% of children aged 6-12 attend primary school, and enrolment in secondary school has jumped from 64% in 2003 to 78% in 2016.

However challenges remain. There are more than 10 million 15-24-year-olds out of work, while at the same time the country faces a shortage of 9 million skilled workers by 2030. Plugging this skills gap is vital if the country is to achieve its target of 7% annual GDP growth.

So what can be done? The report highlights four areas that hold significant potential for philanthropists to create a transformative impact:

  1. Teacher quality. Research shows that a 10% higher teacher assessment score results in 1.7% higher student test scores, but the profession struggles with relatively low pay and low prestige. Training and support for teachers, such as Tanoto Foundation’s Pelita Guru Mandiri, can help alleviate these challenges.
  2. School leadership and governance. Many school principals are recruited from outside the education system and need help to be brought up to speed, while engagement with school committees can be lackluster. Providing schools and principals with help and training offers tremendous potential, the report says, with students at Indonesian schools with outstanding principals performing up to 22% better than those in schools with average ones.
  3. Vocational education. Indonesia faces a shortage of skilled workers, but many students shy away from vocational training, in part due to uncertainty over job opportunities and a perceived lack of prestige. Strengthening vocational training, especially by working with industry to develop curriculums, offers huge potential.
  4. Earl childhood education. Indonesian children exposed to early childhood education perform 10 points better on tests than children who were not even after four years of primary school. But a lack of awareness among parents of the benefits, as well as relatively high cost, means many children do not attend. Programs such as Tanoto Foundation’s Pendidikan Anak Usia Dini, which aims to improve the quality of early childhood education centres, can help improve both quality and accessibility.

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