Located in Southeastern Asia, Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, extending 5,150 km from east to west between the Indian and Pacific Oceans in Southeast Asia and 1,760 km from north to south. Total Area of Indonesia is 1,919,440 sq km (Land Area: 1,826,440 sq km; Water Area: 93,000 sq km), and it is slightly less than three times the size of Texas. Indonesia consists of 17,508 islands according to the Indonesian Naval Hydro Oceanographic office, about 6,000 of which are inhabited. The largest islands are Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and the Indonesian part of New Guinea (Irian Jaya). About 57% of Indonesia's population lives on Java, the most populous island. Indonesia shares its maritime borders with Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Palau to the north, and with Australia to the south; and its border countries are Timor-Leste, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea. 

Demographics Edit

Indonesia has a population of over 255 million. Its population density is 133.16, ranking as the 83rd most dense country. Indonesia has more than 300 distinct ethnic and linguistic groups.

Major Ethnicities (2010):

  • Javanese - 40.1%
  • Sundanese - 15.5%
  • Malay - 3.7%
  • Batak - 3.6%
  • Madurese - 3%
  • Betawi - 2.9%
  • Minangkabau - 2.7%
  • Buginese - 2.7%
  • Bantenese - 2%
  • Banjarese - 1.7%
  • Balinese - 1.7%
  • Acehnese - 1.4%
  • Dayak - 1.4%
  • Sask - 1.3%
  • Chinese - 1.2%
  • Other - 15% 

Age structure (2015): 

  • 0-14 years: 25.83% 
  • 15-24 years: 17.07%
  • 25-54 years: 42.31%
  • 55-64 years: 8.18%
  • 65 years and over: 6.62%


The Indonesian government grants religious freedom although it officially recognizes only six religions (2010):

  • Islam (87.2%)
  • Protestantism (6.9%)
  • Roman Catholicism (2.9%)
  • Hinduism (1.6%)
  • Buddhism (0.72%)
  • Confucianism(0.05%)

Citizens must identify themselves as belonging to one of these on official identity documents. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, and based on demographic statistics, the majority of Indonesian Muslims belongs to Sunni

Education Edit

National Curriculum and Pedagogy Edit

According to Law No.2/1989, the objectives of Indonesia's national education is to create genuine, independent citizens who are able to serve the community and have social and moral values based on the five principles of Pancasila. Currently, Indonesia is in its second 25-year long-term development plan (PJP II). Some of the objectives and priorities of PJP II are the addition of years of schooling in the basic education program, improved quality and equity of educational opportunities, raised qualification standards for teachers, and increased management and monitoring of schooling systems. Indonesia believes that every citizen has a right to the basic education of reading, writing, arithmetic skills, and the use of the Indonesian national language, whether the source of education is in-school or out-of-school. Out-of-school education can include knowledge passed on through family regarding religious faith, social and moral values, and specific life skills. In-school education can consist of general, vocational, academic, religious, or professional education. During a student's basic education, they will attend primary and secondary schools. Basic education can be religious or secular. Religious schools are handled by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and are known as Madrasah lbtidaiyah (primary), Madrasah Tsanawiyah (lower secondary), and Madrasah Aliyah (secondary).

Pancasila Edit

The Pancasila was introduced to Indonesia through the 1945 Constitution. The Pancasila contains the five moral principles that guide Indonesia and places emphasis on individuality, interdependence, and human rights. In the words of former President Suharto, "Pancasila is the sole, basic principle of our life as a society, nation, and state."

The five pillars of Pancasila are:

  1. Monotheism
  2. Just and civilized humanity
  3. Unity
  4. Democracy
  5. Social justice

The symbol of Pancasila


Education System Edit

In Indonesia, the official primary school entrance age is 7. The Indonesian education system is based on a 12-year school (6-3-3) structure, and education is compulsory for the first nine years from primary to junior secondary school. The language of instruction is Bahasa Indonesia, but local regional languages may be used in the first three years of primary school. The school year runs from mid-July to mid-June on a semester system. 

Public/Private Schooling

Public Schooling Edit

Public school are divided into two sectors - European schools and Islamic schools. The European schools are part of the Ministry of Education while Islamic schools are part of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. The Ministry of Education funds more money to European schools, but the two sectors have been known to collaborate on curriculum and resources.

Private Schooling Edit

Private schools are available starting with Junior/Senior Secondary levels. Private schools can be religious or secular, yet there are many similarities between the two as well as with public education due to national curriculum and national exit exams.

School Levels Edit

Preschool Edit

Before beginning Indonesia's 9 year basic education program, most children attend preschool. Preschools can be in the form of in-school education or out-of-school education as well. Kindergartens are classed as in-school education facilities while play groups and child care centers are out-of-school education. There are also Islamic preschools called Bustanul Atfal and Raudlatui Atfal, which are the same status as kindergarten.These religious preschools are organized by the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

The content of the preschool educational program for kindergartens and Islamic preschools must include:

  • Pancasila and moral education
  • Religion
  • Discipline
  • Language ability
  • Thinking exercises
  • Creativity
  • Social skills
  • Feelings and emotions
  • Manual skills
  • Physical fitness and health

Primary Education Edit

Primary schooling is compulsary for all children and is six years. 85% of all children are enrolled in primary school. Children in urban and rural areas are equally as likely to attend primary school. Public, secular primary schools are known as Sekolah Dasa (SD) and religious as Madrasa Ibtidaiyah. According to Law no. 2/1989, primary education curriculum, whether it be religious or secular, contains 10 subjects:

  • Pancasila and citizenship education
  • Religious education
  • Indonesian language, including reading and writing
  • Mathematics, including arithmetic
  • Natural science, including science and technology introduction
  • Social sciences, including geography, national and general history
  • Art, including drawing
  • Physical and health education
  • English language
  • Local content
Primary school enrollment

Primary Education Data by UNESCO UIS


Junior & Senior Secondary Education Edit

From grade 6 to 9, students attend Junior Secondary school, known as Sekolah Menengah Pertama (SMP). For the following three years, students attend Senior Secondary school, or Sekolah Menengah Atas (SMA). Religious secondary schooling is Madrasah Tsanawiyah (junior secondary) Madrasah Aliyah (senior secondary).  The main goal of secondary education is to successfully prepare students for higher education and to develop their knowledge of social, cultural, and natural surroundings.

The topics taught in secondary education include:

  • Pancasila and citizenship education
  • Religion
  • Indonesian language and literature
  • Physical and health education
  • National and general history
Secondary school

Secondary Education by UNESCO UIS

Gender in EducationEdit

‘Achieving gender parity in access to education is only a first step. Equal access does not guarantee equality. Achieving gender equality in education requires that there is equal opportunity for females and males, and that they are treated equally and fairly. This will in turn translate to greater equality in learning achievement and outcomes, and beyond education, equality of opportunities in the labour market and other spheres of life’.

Nina Sardjunani, Deputy Minister for Human Resources and Cultural Affairs, National Development Planning Agency

  • Most children, both boys and girls, enroll in primary school, with the net enrolment ratio (NER) reaching 93% in 2002, having no significant gender gap (UNESCO, 2008). However, in 2010 it was shown that female education attainment is lower than male attainment in both rural and urban populations (UNESCO, 2010). 
  • Literacy rates of students ages 10-24 are equal between males and females (UNESCO, 2010).
  • At the junior secondary school level, the NER drops to 61.6% with a slightly higher ratio for girls (62.4%) than boys (60.9%) (UNESCO, 2008).
  • Indonesia has the most balanced distribution of female and male graduates across the subject areas with a slightly higher proportion of females graduating in all disciplines (OECD, 2011). 
  • Data on school transition rates show that boys and girls are equally likely to graduate and transition from school levels (i.e.: primary to junior secondary, junior secondary to senior secondary, etc.). Transition rate from primary to junior secondary education for boys (83%) is slightly higher  although not significantly  than that of girls (81%). The gender gap in transition rates widen a little – although still insignificantly  at the next higher level of schooling from junior secondary to senior secondary education levels (73% for boys compared to 69% for girls) (UNESCO, 2008).
  • There are, however, significant gender gaps in school dropout rates, both at primary and junior secondary levels. Girls are more likely to drop out of school than boys. In both primary and junior secondary school, out of every 10 children who drop out, 6 are girls and 4 are boys. The gender gap widens during senior secondary school to 7 girls dropping out for every 3 boys (UNESCO, 2008). Girls are more likely to drop out of school due to insufficient funding and marriage/household duties, whereas boys are more  likely to drop out due to insufficient funding and work duties (UNESCO, 2010). 

   Gender parity is not a major issue within Indonoesia's educational sector, yet there are still gender-based obstacles to overcome. UNESCO (2008) states that gender-biased textbooks, gender stereotyping, inadequate gender-promoting programs, and early marriage should be prioritized in gender-based initatives. UNESCO (2010) and ACDP (2013) outline gender parity programs that have been initiated in Indonesia. These programs include increasing teachers' knowledge and awareness of gender biases, increasing gender parity within education administration, teacher development, curriculum reform, and learning acheivement.      

Historical Context

Indonesia has experienced changes to their educational system throughout history. Below is a brief summary of the historical eras and the changes they brought to education, as well as the different types of education one can receive in Indonesia. 

Precolonial Era Edit

During the Precolonial Era, boarding schools, also known as pesantrans, became popular throughout Indonesia. These schools had the purpose of training students in religious Islamic content.

Dutch Colonial Era (early 1600s-1942) Edit

The Dutch invaded Indonesia and took control in the early 1600s. The Dutch implemented their school system throughout the country, only offering education in the Dutch language. This eliminated Indonesians access to education,and as a result the rates of illiteracy skyrocketed.

Japanese Occupation (1942-1945) Edit

During WWII, the Japanese occupied Indonesia. With their presence, the educational system was reformed. The Japanese enforced the implementation of local languages in schools and textbooks, increasing Indonesians access to education. 

Independence & Reconstruction (1945-1966) Edit

After WWII, Indonesia gained control over their country and began to create their own educational system. The Indonesian Proclamation of Indenpendence was declared on August 17, 1945. Their main focus was on "Unity in Diversity", which was the country's motto. The Pancasila framework was created; composed of five focuses (monotheism, humanism, nationalism, representative government, social justice) the Pancasila aimed to increase their national identity through education.

New Order Era (1966-1998) Edit

Indonesia experience mass economic growth, poverty decline, and improvement in health and education during this time.

Present Day (1998- ) Edit

During the late 90's, Indonesia experienced an extreme monetary crisis, which they titled the Krismon. Indonesia was offered a loan through IBF, with promises of reforming their financial sector. This plan failed and Indonesia experienced yet another massive debt. Since the 2000's, Indonesia has experienced a bit of political chaos. There have been many short-lived presidencies and political transitions. The educational system in Indonesia is currently one in transition.

The Change Indonesia's Education System Needs-1

The Change Indonesia's Education System Needs-1


In 2013, the United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs estimated Indonesian Diaspora to be around 3 million, globally spread throughout 91 countries. However, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimated this number to be around 6 million. The reason for this extreme difference in numbers could be varying definitions and qualifications for 'diaspora.' Regardless of the exact number, it has been evident in multiple studies that the amount of Indonesian diaspora has been quickly growing. There has been an estimated growth rate of more than 50% between the years of 1990-2013. In 2015, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Indonesian Diaspora Foundation, Sonita Lontoh, was quoted as estimating the number of Indonesian diaspora to be anywhere between 8-10 million globally and 250,000-300,000 in the United States.  

The majority of Indonesia diaspora reside in Malaysia (35%), Saudi Arabia (13%), or the UAE (11%). 

Indonesian diaspora are also connected through various organizations and events. Below are examples of events and organizations held for Indonesian diaspora within the United States.

The Congress of Indonesia Diaspora (CID) is an annual event, which began in 2012, that is sponsored by the Indonesian Diaspora Network. CID aims to  "inspire Indonesian diaspora communities to connect and unite themselves into one big community and to create a tangible force in order to acheive a better Indonesia." CID aims to change what it means to be apart of the Indonesian diaspora community in the 21st century. Through technological advances and the advancement of the Internet and social media, CID intends to increase mutual respect between Indonesian diaspora and their homeland of Indonesia. Ultimately, CID intends to strengthen the global community of Indonesian diaspora.

The Indonesian Diaspora Foundation (IDF) is an Indonesian US-based nonprofit, with headquarters located in Washington, D.C., that is focused on philanthropic efforts and frequently holds events to connect Indonesian diaspora throughout the United States. It's mission statement is:  "To help strengthen the global cross-collaboration between Indonesia and the world, including the United States - culturally, socially, economically; to help empower Indonesian diaspora worldwide, and to provide humanitarian assistance as necessary." IDF currently has six projects that partner with various foundations that provide aid to Indonesian diaspora in the States and natives in Indonesia. 

Asian Pacific America welcomes the Indonesian Diaspora Foundation

Asian Pacific America welcomes the Indonesian Diaspora Foundation


Videos Edit

Indonesia Travel Doc

Indonesia Travel Doc Part 01

Indonesia Travel Doc Part 01

Indonesia: Our Adventure Home

Tourism Showreel)

Tourism Showreel)

News articles Edit

Indonesia's Aceh sets partial curfew for women (Al Jazeera)

References Edit

The World Bank Data


BBC: Indonesia Country Profile

Country Studies

Education Policy and Data Center (FHI 360/USAID)

UNESCO Institue of Statistics

Pew Research Center: Muslim Population of Indonesia

CIA The World Factbook

Indonesian Embassy

Muhidin, S., & Utomo, A. (2013). How many overseas Indonesians are there.(Discussion Paper Series No. 1/2013) Indonesia Diaspora Network.

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