Indonesia is transforming its education sector drastically, but it is necessary to advance the nation.
National reform at this scale is often initiated by bold leadership and overcommunication in its execution.
The President has been the driving force with his explicit commitment in human capital. While making drastic reforms is challenging, overcommunicating on its benefits will typically ease the transition.
The ministry realises the importance of restructuring the education system to make it more relevant in the modern days.
Moving forward, the curriculum would have to be revamped to be less theoretical and more practical to encourage innovation and creativity. As such, the government is focusing on three core themes: (i) green economy; (ii) digitalization; and (iii) healthcare innovation.
Centralizing and merging multiple ministries into a single body improves efficiency and creates a holistic education system reform.
Merging and centralising the education, research, technology and culture ministries is one of Indonesia’s key steps in allowing reform in education to happen in an end-to-end manner and reflects the government’s acknowledgement that these functions can no longer operate independently from each other to achieve success.
The pandemic has not only highlighted the structural weakness in the education system, but has also acted as a great window to make all the needed changes.
Covid-19 emphasized that the issue of uneven access to education is largely in tandem with the lack of access to technology.
This is a global challenge, and poor access to technology has further widened the gaps in learning progression. However, Covid-19 has accelerated the digitalization pace in the country and government is distributing electronic devices to teachers and students in non-urban areas, and improving internet infrastructure rapidly.
Consolidation of low- and high-level education is challenging due to the complexity.
Having said that, if this is well-planned, a holistic system can be created to have a better education connection from one end to another. Additionally, it is a misperception that the greatest equalizer in education is technology; it is the good quality of teachers and their distribution across the nation that matter.
Strategies that anchor the solutions to the challenges in education include curriculum flexibility and fair budget allocation across the nation.
To address the different needs in Indonesia’s well-diverse communities, the ministry reiterated on the need for education syllabus to be more agile rather than uniformed and the education budget to be fair based on the socioeconomical needs rather than equal across the country.
Indonesia needs to a leapfrog in education to catchup. It is revamping its education system by enhancing entrepreneurial skills and professional experiences.
To be able to beat the crowd, it is vital that there is willingness to take risks and be open-minded, which is enabling the ministry to get things done faster.
The government is pushing for education institutions to be more adaptable and open to exchanging ideas in order to create an innovative culture surrounding education.
Collaborating with different private institutions (e.g. corporates, NGOs, ex-unicorn engineers) would allow professors and students to advance to modern capabilities.
To spur research locally, the government is funding and enabling world class tech companies, NGOs and research projects to run like full-scale mini universities. This allows students and lecturers to spend 25% of their time off-campus to gain real-world learning opportunities in one of the government’s efforts to unbundle the higher education extensively.