Education and its Problems in Indonesia

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Opinion: Asmiati Malik

After almost eight decades enjoying the freedom from colonisation yet the face of education development in Indonesia is still far below expectation. Even within ASEAN countries, the quality of human competitiveness index is no 113 in the world, and even below Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand in 2016, although Indonesia contributes 40% of ASEAN economic pie.

The allocation of 20% of the total national budget or roughly US$ 25 billion into education development since 2008, following Indonesia constitutional court decision No: 013/PUU-VI/200 does not well reflect on the human development index within ten years. As a consequence, there is no relationship between the Triple Helix concept between government, university and industry.

Triple Helix is a concept of building a strong relationship between the government, university and industry to a achieve acceleration in innovation. Showing the fact that there is none of the Indonesian university in the top world 100 universities.

Even the performance is slightly backward in the 60s where students from Malaysia went to study in Indonesia, and now Indonesian students go to study in other ASEAN countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines. And from the industrial sector itself, there is no modern industry which based on modern technology with high-added value, and innovation of modern industry ever grows in Indonesia. Instead, the state’s revenue is highly depended on the export of energy resources such as oil, gas and coal.

This raises a question of what is technically and philosophically wrong with Indonesia education system. Why even with such a generous allocation of fund for education is not efficient enough to increase the quality of education and human resource development in Indonesia.

Incorrect Policies

Jokowi’s development priority on physical infrastructure development is rather put aside the importance of education, despite his earlier campaign slogan was human development. It is almost the analogy of does the tool comes first of the knowledge will follow?

Although Jokowi’s infrastructure program does show a significant result of physical development, but the main concern Indonesia’s neighbouring countries also speeding up their infrastructure and focused to human resources development which will be hard to catch in the next five years.

One of the main reason apart from why investment comes to Indonesia majority from Singapore because most of the big companies prefer to set up them headquarter office in Singapore instead of Jakarta. Singapore is more attractive for big companies to build headquarter in Singapore because of infrastructure facilities, service and human resources capacity and capability are more attractive to them.

This is slightly different with a recent approach from the Governor of Jakarta Anies Baswedan to make Jakarta as an ecosystem, which has to be self-sufficient for instance, empowering farmers to manage 300 hectares of rice field in Jakarta to support the demand of rice for Jakarta, which expected able to supply 5 ton per acre.

He also claims that the rice that is consumed in Jakarta from the farmers, not from import. Based on the data in 2012, Jakarta consumes 2000 ton of rice per day. From 300 hectares of rice field only able to produce 1500 ton per harvest, make it 4500 ton per years, or equivalent able to supply 12 ton per day or 0.6% of total demand for Jakarta. However, the data is not static because the total population has increased from 9.6 million in 2012 to 10.4 million in 2017, which increased nearly a million in 6 years.

This one of an example of policy design and implementation which consider does not have any substantial effect of making Jakarta as the main centre of industry in Southeast Asia. The policy which is not efficient enough to lure the investors and big company to relocate their headquarter that automatically also lures them to move their fund to Indonesia.

Instead of focusing on the competitive advantage, the policy more likely tends to pursue popular policies to gain sympathy from the voters. And so far, there is no significant plan from Jakarta’s government to increase the human resource quality in Jakarta. Although from central government, they already have a program to gives scholarship for students with academic and extracurricular achievement to study abroad through LPDP.

There are 8.466 of total LPDP awardee in November 2017, but this is still not enough because there are 260 million people in Indonesia. Represent 0.003% of total populations. This will not be enough to support Indonesia economic development in the future.

The government should focus on the improvement of quality education infrastructure including campus facilities in Indonesia. Facilities here including the psychical and non-physical such as access to journals and books. The salary of lecturer at the University also has to be re-reviewed.

According to my interview with several lecturers in Jakarta and Makassar, the salary of lecturers in university is away lower than the salary of a teacher at an elementary school. Despite, lecturer required higher education than a teacher, which is not fair for them.

For instance, the salary of lecturer in Jakarta range between 6-9 million per month where the salary of a teacher can reach up to 14 million, and some reach 31 million per month. Only by putting the education as the main target of development goal, it will be then able to support the ambition of the Indonesia government to a centre of the economic pulse in ASEAN.