Indonesia has undertaken various large-scale education reforms over the past two decades, including increasing spending by threefold in real terms. The country’s investments in education have achieved a gender-balanced, near-universal school enrolment, particularly at the elementary-school level. And yet significant challenges to improve learning outcomes still exist. The performance of Indonesian students in science, mathematics, and reading is one of the lowest among the participating countries of the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Yet, perhaps surprisingly, when we asked education stakeholders from national to school levels about challenging issues in education, they seldom mentioned these worryingly low results on academic skills. Instead, these stakeholders emphasised other issues affecting students: moral degradation, reflected by violence (including bullying), drug use, free sex, and teenage pregnancy.
The push for Indonesian education to emphasise character education raises concerns, chief among them: how character is defined and the extent to which morality, religion, and nationalism are part of this; and whether the focus on character complements or detracts from a focus on improving student learning. The authors discuss these issues, drawing insights from our Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER)-like exercise—one component of the Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE) System Diagnostic Study—ongoing research activities of the RISE Programme in Indonesia, and a SMERU study.
This paper is part of the Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE) Programme.
Kurniasih, H., Utari, V., and Akhmadi (2018). Character Education Policy and Its Implications for Learning in Indonesia’s Education System. Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE) Programme Insights
Published 14 November 2018