FPCI Chapter UI Board of 2023 Diplomatic Organizational Forum: “From Local Inequity to Global Ripples: The Domino Effect of Indonesia’s Educational Divide”

Written by Khansa Maritza., and Rafi Ikhsan Adimulya; Edited by Ramadhani Hadi., and Athaya Aurelia
Public Relations Division FPCI Chapter UI Board of 2023

A Memo from the Event

On 25th November 2023, FPCI Chapter UI Diplomatic Organizational Forum 2023 was held with the topic “From Local Inequity to Global Ripples: The Domino Effect of Indonesia’s Educational Divide.” Discussing the topic of Indonesia’s so-called ‘unsolvable problem’ which is Education. The event was attended by 7 organizations with different backgrounds so the discussion was filled with a lot of different perspectives on the topic. The Director of Pusat Studi Pendidikan dan Kebijakan—Nisa Felicia Faridz—was present to enlighten the discussion with data and professional take on the topic of Indonesia’s education.

Education in Indonesia: What’s on the field?

We saw tons of news headlines regarding the problems with the education system in Indonesia, whether it is the curriculum, the selection system, the facilities, and other concerns related to that. It left us to wonder, is it really that bad?
Nisa Felicia Faridz provides us an illustration to see the reality of it at FPCI Chapter UI Diplomatic Organizational Forum 2023. Education itself is public goods, even though it is also a private investment. Nisa said that most people forget that the progress in the education system will also affect the development of the country. Education is not only about the enhancement of one person or one group but it should be a way to enhance the ability of the people at the national level to obtain new sets of skills, advancing critical thinking, and problem-solving. Everyone has the right to get the highest quality of education.
It’s all about access. Indonesia is a big country with thousands of islands and it is quite challenging to make sure that everyone can get access to good education equally. Public schools that are provided by the government are generally much cheaper, standardized in quality, and more accessible, but the acceptance is very  limited. In Jakarta for example, PSPK revealed that only 34% of junior high school graduates could get into public high school, while the rest spread across private and non-formal schools. This is the main problem in Indonesia’s education system, the incapability of the state to provide a good school for everyone. Most of the lower-income families depend on public school because it is cheaper, but with the limited acceptance, they are left with no option other than to go to private school. But then, another problem arises, private schools with higher quality are usually more expensive while the cheaper ones don’t fulfill  the standard. 

The Inability to Compete

Talking about education in Indonesia, another problem that arises is the inability of Indonesia to compete in terms of its education system at the global level. Reflecting on Indonesia’s ranking in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Indonesia is still far away from good. Indonesia’s score is below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) standard in every aspect—including mathematics, literacy, and science. The low score shows that Indonesia’s education system and the existing curriculum has not been able to encourage improvement for students. 
Each organization in the Diplomatic Organizational Forum 2023 presented its own take on the problem. Most of them think that the cause of the problem is the curriculum. The lack of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) in the learning activities inhibits student’s ability to think analytically and have a comprehensive understanding. Without a big change, students’ readiness to receive a higher level of education will not be achieved. Not only that, the gap in access to a good education is also still part of the problem. In most parts of the country, there is not much option for the students to choose because the number of schools is still very limited. 
Swara Peduli Ceria highlights the influence of politics and business on education in Indonesia. They emphasize the need for improved literacy, character development, and curriculum enhancement to ensure that education encompasses all aspects, not just schools. In the context of enhancing student discipline, they propose the “asah, asih, asuh” approach for character development, with community proactivity as the key.
Additionally, the implementation of the Merdeka Curriculum is one of the focuses discussed in the Panel Discussion. UNAI provide its argument, considering it a progressive step but with the risk of creating disparities. Positive views regarding the diversity of the program are also acknowledged by Gores Denai, Rumah Belajar BEM UI, and Manusia UI. However, they highlight the necessity for attention to digital literacy, infrastructure, and parental literacy concerning the curriculum.
Overall, improving education in Indonesia requires collaboration among the government, society, and educators to address the various challenges faced.

Looking Ahead

The problem in education is also related to the higher cases of stunting, poverty, and injustice. The problem in Indonesia’s education system is built up from a lot of different aspects such as politics, economy, and welfare. From the discussion at FPCI Chapter UI Diplomatic Organizational Forum 2023, we have come to the conclusion that the key to solving Indonesia’s education problem is collaboration from all of the institutions related. Fundamental changes are needed to create more high-quality schools with a progressive curriculum and expanding access to everyone across the country.

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