A Brief Reality: Inequality in Quality of Education in Indonesia

By​​ : Naduma

One of​​ Indonesia’s goals on the preamble of its constitution (UUD NRI 1945) is to develop the nation’s intellectual life. It shows that education is believed as a very important thing. People will spend years and thousands for education.​​ Education gives us knowledge of the world, and even​​ enable​​ us to change it into something better. It helps us to develop our perspective of looking at life. It helps us build opinions and have point of view on things in life.​​ But not everyone thinks the same way. Some people think going to school is a waste of time and money. You can get knowledge from everywhere, even you will get more from the outside of school. It may be right, but information can not be converted into knowledge without education.​​ Education makes us capable of interpreting things among other things. It is not just about lessons in textbooks, but also the lesson of life. Some also say that education is a key of success. That’s why parents will sacrifice anything​​ to make their children get education as​​ maximum as possible.

The problem is, everyone doesn’t have the same chance.​​ Indonesia is a big country, consists of hundred millions people with 9,22% number of poverty. It will​​ be easier to access the proper education when you live in a big city, or when your parents have a great job, or when they have much money.​​ Why is it so? Everyone has the same right to get education, so shouldn’t everyone have the same chance too? As it is stated in our constitution, Article 31 UUD NRI 1945. Our government has made a program to realize this mandate, and that is​​ 12 year compulsory education. By this program,​​ every​​ public school​​ is supposed to be free.​​ Government has​​ to prepare​​ 20% of national budget for educational sector, so every child can go to school without worrying about the fee.​​ Unfortunately,​​ the fact is not so.​​ 

The government has allocated 20% of national budget for educational sector, but the funds are​​ corrupted by the regional government or the school itself.​​ ​​ As Ubaid Matraji, National Coordinator of JPPI (Jaringan Pemantau Pendidikan Indonesia)​​ stated on 26 December 2018, that the amount fund for education in Indonesia is Rp 444 billions at 2018, and 60% of it is alocated to regions.​​ Unfortunately, the fund is corrupted and not used to improve the quality of education.1​​ ​​ Also vice chairman of KPK (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi), Basaria Pandjaitan, stated that the fact is educational sector is the most corrupted one, either​​ in​​ provincial level or district level (19/03/2018)2.​​ ICW (Indonesia Corruption Watch)​​ also stated the same point, that educational sector is one of five most-corrupted sectors​​ in Indonesia with 18 cases (20/09/2019)3.​​ 

National budget for educational sector at 2020 is 508,1​​ T, and it is devided to 172,2 T for central, 306,9 T for being transferred to regions, and 29,0 T dor financing.4​​ Most of the funds (60,4%) is transferred to regions, through its regional government. This means that actually the budget of education function is turned over each region. As region has the biggest role on developing educational sector, regional government has the potential to corrupt the most as well.​​ Knowing this fact, Sri Mulyani as the Ministry​​ of Finance, announced that fund allocation for educational sector would be​​ ‘by name, by address, and by school account’ started from 2020, so the school will accept the fund directly without “getting cut” by the regional government. But, there is still a way that the regional government cut this fund; the regional government call​​ each​​ headmasters​​ and ask them to transfer some of the fund if they​​ still​​ want to be a headmaster (30/01/2020).5​​ ​​ It is​​ very​​ unfortunate that the funds are​​ used for personal needs while it can be​​ and should’ve been used​​ to​​ improve the educational sector.​​ They might say how they also believe that education is important, but actions speak louder than words at the end.

As it happens, many of public school obligate their students to pay monthly school fee and other kinds of levy, such as graduation money, registration money, book money, etc. While actually according to Article 10 Permendikbud No. 75/2016, states that school should not collect funds from students or their parents unless​​ it is kind ​​ of donation and​​ has to be reported transparantly. But those things are counted as illegal levy, as they force students to pay.6​​ This certainly burdensome students and feared it will affect their desire to go to school, as we​​ already​​ have​​ 4.586.332 children who don’t go to school at 2019.7

Moreover, the education is inaccessible for the children in small regions. We can easily find inaccessible education in regions of Indonesia cases if we google for it. This proves that our education​​ is really not evenly distributed well. One of the cases is some of our children in Banda Aceh have to walk through mountains and take two hours if the road condition is good, just to get to a senior high school. As the effect, many of them decides not to go for it and quit school.8​​ The infrastructures are also mediocre; thankfully the classrooms have roof and have enough space, ​​ while some other schools have AC in each class room. Inequality in quality of education is evident. Getting an education should not be this pathetic.

Besides,​​ the fact is Indonesia got​​ the 72nd position of 77 countries in terms of education​​ on 2018, based on the survey result of PISA (Programme for International Students Assessment)​​ that was released on​​ 2019.9​​ This​​ affects Indonesia’s image in the eyes of international world as it is considered that Indonesia have not succeeded to provide qualified education by using international standards.​​ This survey is based on 3 main things; mathematics, science, and literacy.​​ This survey involved 12.098 students from 399 schools in Indonesia, while Indonesia has 45.009.784 students 221.138 schools.10​​ Totok Suprayitno (Chairman of Research and Development of Ministry​​ of Education and Culutre) said that based on the result of this survey, achievements of students in Jakarta and Yogyakarta can be aligned with the students form Malaysia and Brunei.​​ But​​ with our low total, means that the quality of education in each regions is quite different.11​​ Meanwhile, Professor Lant Pritchett (a professor from Harvard Kennedy School) did a research to 15-year-old children in Jakarta, and the result says that Indonesia can not wait 128 years to close the skill gap. It needs to accelerate learning progress now.12​​ If Jakarta, the capital and biggest city of Indonesia, is 128 years left, then what about the small cities, the disadvantaged regions? Even just provide a proper education for them is a kind of blessing.

Actually policy on improving and equalizing the quality of education has long been realized in the form of regulations, and some of them are UUD NRI 1945 and UU No. 20/2003 about National Education System.​​ “Every citizen has the right to education”​​ stated on​​ Article 31 Pharagraph 1 UUD NRI 1945.​​ As the implementation of this regulation, one of the principles of operating education according to UU No. 20/2003 Article 4 Pharagraph 1 is that education has to be held demoratically, full of justice, also non-discriminative by upholding human rights, religious values, cultural values, and diversity. ​​ Article 5 pharagraph 1 also states that every citizen has the same​​ right to get quality​​ education.​​ Briefly, these regulations​​ agree with​​ the-Education for All (EFA)-concept, which means education has to be accessible​​ for all.​​ Unfortunately this​​ great concept has not been​​ optimally applied, as the facts been listed above.​​ 

Our government should work​​ more​​ to realize​​ the “Education for All”.​​ We should pay more attention to them​​ and prioritize their development, as education is important and everyone has the right of quality education.​​ This may be hard and will take a big effort, remembering Indonesia is a big country with​​ thousands islands, but that​​ is exactly what should be done. Besides, all of us have agreed to this, as our constitution states so.​​ If the funds were not corrupted and used optimally for improving the access of education, this would not be​​ so​​ hard.​​ Supervision of the funds of education should’ve been done more strictly.​​ It is very unfortunate, knowing that the funds should’ve been able to​​ equal the education, instead of using it for personal gain.​​ In the other hands, we as an agent of change can help by making a movement to teach children in small areas voluntarily or join and become a volunteer of an existing movement.​​ As Mahatma Gandhi said, be the change you want to see in the world.​​ 

At the end, hopefully our educational sector will get better as education is very important for the future of our country. This is indeed our government’s obligation, but it will take hundreds years if we just wait for the government to realize it. We can help, and we should work together for this.














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