Bloomsbury Education and Childhood Studies Country Pages


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Country overview



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DOI: 10.5040/9781350995963.0016

  • Publisher:
    Bloomsbury Publishing
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Bloomsbury Education and Childhood Studies Country
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Country overview [1]

Schooling in Indonesia is delivered by the National Ministry for Education, which administers regular state and private schools, and the Ministry for Religious Affairs, which administers state and private Islamic schools, known as madrasah.

Although outside the formal system, education for many, particularly in the better served urban communities, commences at 4 years of age with kindergarten, known as taman kanak-kanak or TK (RA or BA in the Islamic system), or earlier still with playgroup.

The formal schooling system is structured in three levels, spanning twelve years:

  • The primary curriculum is structured along standard lines, divided into subjects: Indonesian language, mathematics, science, social science, arts, physical education, and religion. The national examinations held at the end of primary school are called sekolah dasar or SD; madrasah ibtidaiyah or MI.

  • The secondary school curriculum is more specialized, with science divided into chemistry, physics, and biology, for example. National examinations are held at the end of junior secondary school (sekolah menengah pertama or SMP; madrasah tsanawiyah or MTs), and senior secondary school (sekolah menengah atas or SMA; madrasah aliyah or MA) respectively.

  • Technical or vocational senior high schools, known as sekolah menengah kejuruan (SMK) or madrasah aliyah kejuruan (MAK), provide a vocational education in a range of fields, generally aligned to the needs of local industry. The three-year program aims to prepare students directly for the workplace and to produce skilled workers to serve the needs of Indonesian industry. The schools specialize in particular vocational areas such as economics, business, motor mechanics, engineering, agriculture, dressmaking, and construction.

Indonesia’s higher education system is made up of state and private academies, polytechnics, colleges, institutes, and universities. Academies are single-faculty institutions offering diploma programs while polytechnics are multi-faculty institutions offering diploma programs. Colleges often have only one faculty and offer diplomas and some basic degrees. Institutes have university-level status and offer diplomas and basic degrees. Universities offer diplomas and a full range of degrees including doctoral programs.

Read more about education and childhood in Indonesia

Statistical information

GDP (current US$)

School enrollment, primary (% gross)

Life expectancy at birth, total (years)

Population, total

Full country profile

Regional Editor

Lorraine Pe Symaco, Director of the Centre for Research in International and Comparative Education (CRICE) at the University of Malaya, Malaysia

Lorraine is ZJU100 Professor at Zhejiang University, China. She was Founder and Director of the Centre for Research in International and Comparative Education (CRICE) and UNESCO Chair in International and Comparative Educational Research with Special Reference to South East Asia at the University of Malaya, Malaysia. Lorraine is Editor of Education in South-East Asia (2011 and 2013)


  • Mark Heyward (INOVASI, Indonesia)

  • Setiono Sugiharto (Atma Jaya Catholic University, Indonesia)

[1] All sourced from: L. Pe Symaco, Education in South-East Asia (London: Bloomsbury, 2013).