National Education System

Formal education in Indonesia starts from Kindergarten to Higher Education. The national education system is based on the K-12 System (fig. 1).9(14) Religious institutions also provide education at each respective education level.

The formal education levels are as follows:

1. Pre-school Education

According to National Education System Law No. 20 of 2003 Article 28,1 Early Childhood Education (ECE) is provided through formal, non-formal and/or informal education. ECE is also known as Pre-school education, which refers to non-compulsory education provided to children between 4-6 years of age, and lasts 1-2 years. Formal ECE is provided in kindergarten (Taman Kanak-Kanak /TK) and other similar institutions; non-formal ECE consists of day care centres, play groups; and the informal ECE consists of infants’ family development, and integrated health service centres. ECE is also provided in Islamic religious preschools with kindergarten.

2. Basic Education

This consists of nine years of compulsory education for all school-going age Indonesian citizens. It includes:

  1. Primary or Elementary Education (SD) that begins at the age of seven and takes six years to complete. All learners end their primary education (grade 6) by taking a national examination and a psychological test, results of which enable them to continue to junior secondary level. Primary education is also provided by religious schools.
  2. Junior secondary education (SMP), which is the second and last part of compulsory basic education and takes three years to complete. Learners complete this level (grade 9) by passing the national examination that leads to an award of lower secondary certificate.

3. Senior Secondary Education

Successful candidates from junior secondary school can progress to senior secondary education by pursuing either general secondary education (SMA) or vocational secondary education (SMK). Senior secondary education takes three years to complete.

  1. General secondary schools (SMA) (grade 10-12) follow the academic stream that prepares students to continue to higher institutions of learning such as universities, colleges, polytechnics etc. In the first year, i.e. grade 10, the curricula focus on general learning. However, in the second and third year, (grade 11 and 12), students can specialize in an area of their choice by selecting one of the four specializations: natural sciences (IPA), social sciences (IPS), languages and religious studies.
  2. Vocational secondary schools (SMK) impart vocational education and training and prepare students for the world of work. While most SMKs offer three year programmes, some can also extend the programmes by a year. The fourth year leads to a Diploma Certificate One (D1). These vocational education programmes are also provided by religious vocational schools (MAK).

SMA/SMK/MAK graduates receive a national certificate of secondary education upon successful completion of their respective programmes, which is subject to passing the final national examinations.

4. Tertiary Education

Graduates from secondary schools can opt for higher studies (at universities, institutes, schools of higher learning, academies, or polytechnics), based on their chosen field of study, i.e. general or vocational. Those from the general stream, can pursue a Bachelor’s Certificate (S1) followed by Master’s (S2) and Doctoral (S3) degrees. Alternatively, graduates from vocational secondary schools can opt for the professional track. They can further their studies at Polytechnics (Politeknik) for Diploma Certificates (DI-DIV) and continue to specialist I and II (Sp.1 and Sp.2).

Indo Fig 1

Figure 1. Structure of the Education System of Indonesia9(p34)

[SD = Sekolah Dasar; SMP = Sekolah Menengah Pertama; SMA/SMK= Sekolah Menengah Atas/Kejuruan; S = Sarjana (S1 = Bachelor, S2 = Master degree, S3 = Doctorate)]

TVET System

Formal TVET System

Formal technical and vocational education and training is offered at secondary, as well as tertiary levels in Indonesia, by both public and private institutions.

At the secondary education level, Vocational High Schools, also known as Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan (SMKs) and Islamic Vocational Schools (MAK) offer three-year programmes to students that lead to secondary certificate level qualifications. Some vocational high schools, however, extend to the fourth year – SMK-Plus – that leads to a Diploma Certificate One (D1). Students who have successfully completed junior secondary school (SMP) are eligible to enrol in SMKs. Apart from enrolling in the programme, TVET students are encouraged to also puruse Skills Certificate courses from industries while they are still in school to enhance their employability skills.

Both, SMK Negeri (public) as well as SMK Swasta (private) schools offer vocational education at secondary level. The Vocational High School Education is regulated by the Ministry of Education and Culture (MoEC) under the Directorate Technical and Vocational Education (DTVE). It is responsible for designing and developing the vocational curriculum in consultation with the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration (MoMT) and Ministry of Industries (MOI).

Vocational secondary schools focus on developing students’ expertise in these main sectors or fields: technology and engineering; information and communication technology; health; arts, crafts, and tourism; agro-business technology; and business and management. However, majority of the institutes specialize primarily in technology and industry (86%) or business and management programmes (76%).

SMKs offer 144 competences, however, about 60% of the competency proportion is filled only by 10 major competencies namely: computer and network engineering; accounting; office administration; light vehicle engineering; engineering machinery; motor vehicle engineering; multimedia; marketing; and engineering cooler.9

Upon completion of three years of secondary studies at the SMK, graduates are awarded the national secondary certificate. From hereon, they can a) directly join the labour market by filling job vacancies available in industries related to their course of study or work independently as entrepreneurs, or b) pursue higher education at tertiary institutions.

At the tertiary level and in accordance with the Higher Education Act, vocational programmes are offered by a variety of tertiary institutions like: community colleges, academies, advanced schools, institutes and universities.

SMK graduates can pursue higher studies at Polytechnics (Politeknik) by enrolling in three-year Diploma Certificates (DI-DIV) and still continue on the professional track to specialist I and II (Sp.1 and Sp.2)9. They are regulated by the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education (MoRTHE).

According to BPS 2015 and the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs’ report 2017 titled “Policy of vocation development in Indonesia 2017-2025”,10,11 currently Indonesia has 13,337 vocational secondary schools, out of which 3,434 are public and 9,903 are private vocational high schools. Additionally, there are 172 polytechnics, 279 BLKs, and 1,034 private academies.

Non-formal & Informal TVET System

In Indonesia, non-formal education16 is provided to develop the potential of learners by imparting academic knowledge along with functional skills for their professional and personal development.

Under the MoEC, non-formal education is regulated by the Directorate General of Early Childhood Education and Community Education13 and is provided as equality education to those who could not have access to formal education. It is organised as Education Outside Schools (Pendidikan Luar Sekolah or PLS) under several programmes. Some of the common ones include:

1. Community Learning Centre (CLC) programmes14: Commonly known as Pusat Kegiatan Belajar Masyarakat (PKBM), CLC programmes are lifelong learning programmes starting right from childhood, for those who could not get access to formal education.

One of the PKBM programmes is the ‘Equivalency programme’12 that offers courses in packages (Pakets) to study groups (Kejar) and equals the formal education streams. For example, Paket A is equal to elementary school (Sekolah DasarSD); Paket B is equivalent to junior secondary school (Sekolah Menengah PertamaSMP); and Paket C is similar to senior secondary school (Sekolah Menengah Atas/ KejuruanSMA/SMK). Study groups primarily target people living in remote areas; however, they are also conducted in urban areas to prepare workers and trainees to enter the job market with specific upgraded skills.

Pertinent to the education standards, as stated in the law regarding national education standards No. 19 of year 2005, PKBM also follows:

  1. Content standards, in that it covers basic education framework, curriculum and calendar;
  2. Learning process standards (as stated in national education standards law No. 3 of year 2008), in that it covers planning, implementation of learning, evaluation of learning outcomes and supervision of learning programmes; and
  3. Recognition standards, in that graduates’ qualifications are recognized as per the national assessment and certification process carried out by the non-formal and informal education accreditation and certification agencies under the purview of the MoEC.

Upon successful completion of PKBM, graduates can either seek employment to join the labour force or enroll for further studies like graduates from formal education system.

The objectives of such programmes are to:

  1. Ensure the completion of quality basic education for socioeconomically disadvantaged groups including children (those who could never attend school and school dropouts), ethnic minorities, those residing in backward, poorly, socially, isolated or difficult-to-reach villages due to geographic locations and or with limitations of transportation;
  2. Ensure the fulfillment of learning needs for all citizens of the productive age through fair access to learning and life skills programmes;
  3. Contribute in increasing the average length of education to at least nine years, so as to improve the Human Development Index (HDI);
  4. Help erase gender inequalities in primary and secondary education;
  5. Provide opportunities for community members who wish to complete education equivalent to elementary/junior and senior high school or equivalent with good quality;
  6. Serve learners’ who need academic education and life skills flexibility to actualize themselves while improving the quality of life.

2. Balai Latihan Kerja (BLK) courses: BLKs are vocational training centres15 that form a significant part of the non-formal education system in Indonesia.12 The main objective of BLKs is to equip poor individuals, especially school dropouts, with skills that enable them to have access to formal education or work in the formal sector. Thus, BLKs offer vocational education courses to poor individuals and school dropouts, as well as offer job placement services to formal and informal workers.

Training programmes provided by BLKs are of three types:

  1. BLK Type A: it is offered by larger training providers in urban centres that provide industrial training and service skills, along with smaller players that provide training in different technologies and skills for self-employment;
  2. BLK Type B: this involves smaller urban centres that offer informal education comprising self-learning, family and community education; and
  3. BLK Type C: it is offered by the most humble training providers from rural areas.

BLKs offer a variety of programmes through Community-Based Training (CBT) and Mobile Training Units (MTU).

BLKs provides four kinds of training, which include institutional training (job training programmes which aim to increase the skills of job seekers); non-institutional training (training programmes for people in remote areas organised through Mobile Training Units); apprenticeship programmes; and demand-based training programmes which are based on the demand of industries).

BLK programmes cover a wide range of areas, including Hotel/Tourism, Telematics/IT, Agriculture, Institution (Train PNS), Construction, Apprenticeship, Electricity, Mechanical Technology, and Commerce. Agriculture and hotel/tourism are the most promising programmes for employability. Graduates receive a BLK certificate upon successful completion of their BLK course.

BLKs are a part of the National Training for Work System, which is regulated by the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration (MoMT) under the Law No. 13 of 20035 on ‘Manpower Act and Government Regulation on National Training for Work system’ (System Pelatihan Kerja Nasional). For recognition purposes, all BLKs have to be assessed by the Government assessment board. In accordance with the decentralisation strategy of the Indonesian Government, BLKs are under the purview of district governments.