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#5 Root Causes of Indonesia’s Low Educational Performance

Low Educational Performance


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There are problems that have long been rooted in the Indonesian education system, so educational transformation is not a task that can be completed in a short time.

The government needs to develop a curriculum structure that is more in line with current needs, improve teacher quality, and make fundamental changes to the school management system.

For this reason, in recent years, the Indonesian government has started an education transformation program called Merdeka Belajar.

Below is an explanation and description of the #5 Root Causes of Indonesia’s Low Educational Performance:


Nature of Previous Curriculum

The underlying causes of Indonesia’s low educational performance can be attributed to several critical factors within its educational system. 

There has been historical inclination towards delivering uniformed national curriculum that focus on content mastery.

This approach entailed each student receiving identical content at the same pace without considering important factors such as student’s competency level, character development, and contextualization for regional variances.

Teachers often neglect the crucial aspect of assessing student comprehension,3 prioritizing instead the completion of curriculum to meet compliance requirements. 

This has resulted in less meaningful learning that is less engaging and enjoyable for students. 

Students and parents have expressed concerns and dissatisfaction with the perceived excessive workload.

Education challenges can be also attributed to a lack of competency in effectively facilitating student learning, as teachers often deprioritize teaching at the right level in favor of completion. 

The rigid emphasis on uniformity overlooked the diverse needs of students and posed limitations on addressing varied learning abilities across schools and regions.

This attitude became deeply entrenched in the mindsets of educational actors, leading to the delivery of an education system that defines success on the conveyance of curriculum content and acquisition of cognitive skills over the progress of students’ basic competencies.


Centralized Governance of Education Curriculum

The centralized governance of education curriculum, characterized by a uniform and prescriptive approach to standard setting, presented a significant hindrance. 

The “one-size-fits-all” system had caused a lack of awareness among school principals and on the importance of customizing teaching and learning strategies to the specific circumstances of their schools.

The lack of flexibility posed by the K-13 curriculum hindered teachers’ ability to cultivate creativity and innovation, primarily because it imposes rigid requirements for teachers to handle complex administrative tasks related to teaching equipment.

Following the introduction of the regional autonomy system, several protocols of school management education governance were given to either central governments or district governments. 

The complexity of this challenge is further intensified by the system and authority structures in these regions. 

Previously, teacher training in Indonesia took a top-down approach, with control largely vested in local governments and constrained quotas.

In 2019, out of around 3 million teachers in Indonesia, only around 620,000 or approximately 20%, attended training due to these limited quotas. 

The collaboration and partnership between the central government and local governments to promote the development of teacher competence was limited.


Limited Access for Teacher Upskilling

Limited access to training is evidently shown by the unequal distribution of training facilities in Indonesia, primarily concentrated in Java, with only six Center for Development and Empowerment of Educators and Education Personnel (Pusat Pengembangan dan Pemberdayaan Pendidik dan Tenaga Kependidikan or P4TK) until 2020 — resulting a substantial imbalance in the access to high-quality training and teaching resources throughout the country. 

Teachers who wished to improve their expertise in particular subjects encountered a restricted selection of choices.

For example, P4TK IPA Bandung stood as the sole center for enhancing competence in science subjects, Batu in East Java exclusively catered to social studies, and Karanganyar in Central Java served as the exclusive hub for enhancing the competence of school heads and supervisors.

The limited geographic coverage of training centers contributes to disparities in teacher development, impeding the potential for a well-distributed and highly skilled teaching workforce nationwide. 

These constraints curtailed teachers’ opportunity to upskill and upgrade their skills and competencies, hence limiting the capacity to create innovative teaching methodologies and tailor strategies that could enhance students’ learning experiences.


Mindset of Educational Actors

The persistent issue of low educational quality can also be partly attributed to the deeply ingrained mindset of the “comfort zone” mentality which hinders teachers’ motivation to actively pursue improvements. 

Directorate General of Teachers and Education Personnel of MoECRT (2020) further suggests that conventional methods of teacher training in Indonesia have historically relied on one-way methods such as lectures and seminars. 

This unilateral form of training impedes effective transmission of knowledge, sometimes leading to materials that do not answer specific needs of teachers in their respective contexts.

Thus, in addition to the adherence to a prescriptive approach within Indonesian school districts, the aforementioned limited access to training had also inadvertently limited the incentive and culture for innovation and professional development. 

These systems offered little motivation for teachers to improve teaching methods and enhance professional capabilities, as prescriptive approaches restrict educators to follow a predetermined “recipe” for teaching, stunting their potential for pedagogical growth and innovation.


Administrative Burden

The task to better support teachers is further compounded by the administrative burdens placed on certain teachers, particularly in the preparation of class materials.

Studies conducted by Education Standard, Curriculum and Assessment Agency MoECRT (2022) and Center for Curriculum and Book Affair (2019) both revealed that teachers in Indonesia tend to prioritize administrative document preparation. 

Similarly, Khurotulaeni’s 2019 qualitative study conducted in a school in Magelang revealed that a majority of teachers lack the motivation to create lesson plans. 

They perceive direct classroom actions as more significant than meticulously scripting complex pages. 

Additionally, the study emphasizes the significance of teachers developing lesson plans in an engaging, inspiring, and enjoyable manner to foster challenges and student creativity.

Teachers have faced difficulties in achieving this expectation due to the excessive complexity of certain parts of the lesson plan, which diverts their attention towards administrative aspects of the lesson plan (Rencana Pelaksanaan Pembelajaran or RPP).

Additionally, those with multiple roles often find themselves obligated to handle administrative tasks such as budgeting and reporting. 

Furthermore, in relation to their role as civil servants, they must fulfil various administrative obligations to receive allowances, secure promotions, and more. 

The lack of flexibility and personalized style in educational management likely led to a magnification of the challenges and levels of underperformance observed within the education sector over time.


Considering the importance of revitalizing the primary and secondary education system, appropriate steps are needed to overcome the root of the problems above.

Thus the explanation above regarding the 5 Root Problems that Cause Low Educational Achievement in Indonesia, hopefully it can be useful.

Thank You.


Article Source

Research and Development Agency, Indonesian Ministry of Education. (2019). Kajian implementasi kurikulum 2013Jakarta: Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan RI.

Education Standard, Curriculum, and Assessment Agency MoECRT. (2022). Kajian Akademik Kurikulum untuk Pemulihan Pembelajaran. Jakarta: Pusat Kurikulum dan Pembelajaran Kementerian Pendidikan, Kebudayaan, Riset, dan Teknologi RI.

Directorate General of Teachers and Education Personnel of MoECRT. (2020). Naskah Akademik Pembentukan Balai Besar Guru Penggerak (BBGP) dan Balai Guru Penggerak (BGP).

Center for Curriculum and Book Affair, Indonesian MoE (2019) Kajian pengembangan dan implementasi kurikulum 2013. Tidak dipublikasikan.

10 Khurotulaeni. (2019). The implementation of curriculum 2013 revision on lesson plans made by English teachers of SMAN 2 Magelang in school year 2018/2019. Journal on Applied Linguistics Language and Language Teaching.

11 Ahmad, S. (2014) Problematika kurikulum 2013 dan kepemimpinan instruksional kepala sekolah. Jurnal Pencerahan. Vol. 8. No. 2.

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