School and Education in Indonesia


The free 6-year primary school, where children start at the age of 6-7, has been compulsory since 1987. In 1993, 97% of the compulsory school pupils stated that they attended primary school, but the shortage of rooms and teachers is great, especially in the countryside, and many children leave school early. In secondary school, divided into two stages every three years, in 1992, 41% of boys and 34% of girls in the current age classes attended. The percentage is 4 percentage points lower than five years earlier. Technical and vocational education is least developed, but vocational subjects have been introduced in secondary school.

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Land area 1,904,569 km²
Total population 267.026.366
Residents per km² 140.2
Capital Jakarta
Official language Indonesian
Income per capita $ 12,400
Currency Indonesian rupiah
ISO 3166 code ID
Internet TLD .id
License plate RI
Telephone code +62
Time zone UTC +7 to +9
Geographic coordinates 5 00 S, 120 00 O

According to UNESCO estimates in 1995, just over 10% of men and 22% of women aged 15 and up were illiterate. Bahasa Indonesia is officially the language of instruction, but in the lower classes local languages are also used. First foreign language is English.

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In 1995, Indonesia had 45 state universities, 26 technical colleges and just over 100 private universities. At post-secondary level, a total of 2 million Indonesians study. In the 1993/94 financial year, almost 10% of the state budget expenditure went to education.

Indonesia Country Flag

Indonesia flag source:

1975 East Timor is invaded

In 1971, the students defied the threat of oppression and took to the streets to protest the alliance between corrupt generals, Chinese traders and Japanese investors. In order to curb dissatisfaction among the lower officers and dissidents in the population, Suharto in 1975 ordered the military to invade East Timor, which had just detached itself from Portugal. US President Gerald Ford visited Jakarta a few hours before the invasion and apparently gave his consent. The people of East Timor did not accept the Indonesians as liberators, but as colonialists of a new type. Instead of curbing Indonesia’s problems, they were reinforced by the East Timorese’s fierce opposition to the new colonial rulers.

In May 1977, dissatisfaction was once again expressed. This time at the election for partial replacement of the MPs. Despite the ban on left-wing parties, censorship and a number of other repressive measures, the Golkar ruling party in Jakarta lost to a coalition of Muslim parties that had severely criticized the widespread corruption. At the same time, Golkar went back into rural areas, despite the fact that political control there has traditionally been more effective.

In order to secure its victory in the 1982 parliamentary elections, the regime further restricted political activity, restructured the electoral system and placed it under the Ministry of the Interior. On March 10, 83, the People’s Consultative Assembly unanimously elected Suharto for a fourth 5-year term as president despite mounting opposition to his government.

Indonesia is pursuing a policy of controlling population growth, which is therefore declining. While the 1984 census indicated a growth of 2.34% per year, for the decade 1980-90 it ended up being 1.8%. Nevertheless, the population pressure – especially in Java -, the radical opening of the economy to the outside world and the rapid industrialization have led to a deterioration of the environment and depletion of available land resources. As early as 1979, therefore, the government initiated a program of transfer of surplus population to the less populated islands. The transmigration program has already transferred 2.5 million people – especially Javanese.

During the 1980s, over 300 ethnic minority groups experienced a deterioration in their living conditions. Especially on Irian Jaya – western Papua New Guinea – extensive protest actions were demanded for self-determination and the opening of the border with neighboring Papua New Guinea, with which the people of Irian Jaya have historically and culturally far more in common.

Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor continued to give the country a damning reputation. In 1988, therefore, Indonesia was once again barred from taking the chair of the Alliance Free Countries Movement. At the same time, the European Parliament recognized East Timor’s right to self-determination.

With the 1988 election, Suharto began his 5th presidential term, while opening up a wider discussion of political issues in the media.