How can reforms combat the learning crisis in a decentralised education system?

Why Indonesia?

Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation, has achieved a gender-balanced, near-universal enrolment at the primary-school level, and an estimated 80 percent of its students enrol in secondary school. Yet, like many countries, Indonesia faces a learning crisis in that its students are not gaining basic, foundational skills despite their years of schooling. Analysis shows that among senior secondary graduates (12 years of schooling), 28 percent have Grade 1 mathematics competence, while 33 percent have Grade 3 mathematics competence.

Indonesia has identified teacher quality as an important factor in its low learning outcomes; half of the nation’s 3 million teachers did not pass a teaching competence test. Indonesia’s highly decentralised education system also provides insight into how education policy and reform play out when primarily directed by local districts rather than a central authority. Thus, the RISE Indonesia Country Research Team is seeking ways to effectively use resources in order to improve teaching quality and, in turn, student learning in both urban and rural settings, within the context of a decentralised political system.

For more about the team's work, see their technical research overview or a list of all Indonesia Country Research Team research outputs.

Researchers and Institutions

The Indonesian Country Research Team is a multidisciplinary group of 23 academic researchers with expertise in economics, education, political science and programme evaluation. The project is led by the SMERU Research Institute, an Indonesian, independent institution that conducts research and public policy studies on socioeconomic and poverty-specific issues. International partner institutions include the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD) and Mathematica.

A list of Indonesia Country Research Team members is available on our People page.

Research agenda

The team's research agenda focusses on two large-scale reform areas.

The first will evaluate the Ministry of Education and Culture's system-wide Teacher Reform Roadmap launched in 2016 to understand how teacher distribution, recruitment, training, and incentives improve student learning. The second research area seeks to understand how system change can happen under a system that grants significant authority to districts. The team will understand how district-level innovations get generated, evaluate how they affect learning, and examine how innovations spread to other districts.