Episode 3 of the RISE Podcast: Shintia Revina Explores How Institutional Structures Shape the Teaching Profession in Indonesia

Dr Shintia Revina of the RISE Indonesia Country Research Team and Jakarta’s SMERU Research Institute explains how policy expectations, systemic constraints, and institutional structures affect Indonesia’s teachers.


Image of Lillie Kilburn

Lillie Kilburn

RISE Directorate

Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

In the third episode of the RISE podcast, we were very excited to speak with Dr Shintia Revina of our RISE Indonesia Research Team, based at the SMERU Research Institute in Jakarta. In conversation with RISE Research Fellow Yue-Yi Hwa, Dr Revina discussed insights and issues emerging from RISE Indonesia’s growing body of research about the teaching profession.

Challenges in teacher hiring and development

Dr Revina explained the complexities that her research team has explored in the areas of teacher recruitment and teacher training in Indonesia.

She identified three factors inhibiting Indonesia’s ability to recruit highly skilled teachers: the fact that teachers are recruited using the civil servant recruitment process; a lack of cohesion in the division of authority for teacher recruitment among different levels of government; and an institutional resistance to change in the recruitment process.

A cycle of low learning

One study undertaken by the RISE Indonesia team, Dr Revina explained, collected data in the form of personal diaries written by teachers. The results were illuminating in several ways, one of which was that the teachers struggled to make deep reflections in their writing, although they reflected in deeper ways in follow-up phone calls.

Dr Revina concluded that this finding reflects a cycle of low learning in Indonesia: the teachers themselves did not receive teaching that allowed them to reach a high level of skill in writing, and so they may struggle to help their students to reach a high level of skill in writing too.

Dr Revina said:

[I]n one of our preliminary reports on pre-service teacher study, we found that only 12 percent of our sample teachers think—this is their perception—that the professional education programme they participated, the one year programme, equipped them with adequate skills to facilitate students’ literacy learning [. . .] they admitted that they had not mastered this foundational skill, let alone teaching it to their future students.

What is a good teacher?

Dr Revina explained that in order to improve learning outcomes in Indonesia, it will be necessary to reform aspects of the teaching profession, including those mentioned above—but the first step in reforming the teaching profession must be agreeing on what makes a good teacher.

Sometimes, she said, qualities like a teacher’s personality are valued more highly than competencies in increasing student learning:

[T]he first step that we can do is to revise our current teacher professional standards to make them more measurable, so that we can then use these standards to distinguish effective from ineffective teachers. And this would also allow us to agree on the indicators of what is a good teacher, what is a highly skilled teacher, and this standard can also be used as a guidance for recruiting and developing our teachers.

Learn more

Hear more thoughts from Dr Revina on these topics and others in the full podcast below. You can also subscribe to the RISE podcast via Spotify, Apple PodcastsTuneInGoogle Podcasts, and Stitcher.

RISE blog posts and podcasts reflect the views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation or our funders.