Indonesia Update Conference 2012 – The State of Education


Richard Woolcott giving the Opening Speech, with Tom Kompas, Director of Crawford School next to him


The annual Indonesia Update Conference – The State of Education was held on 21 – 22 September 2012 in Coombs Lecture Theatre, ANU. This was the 30th Update since it started in 1982 and was still the largest conference on Indonesia outside the country itself. This year’s Update was convened by Daniel Suryadarma (Indonesia Project, ANU) and Gavin Jones (NUS, Singapore). The Update was attended by approximately 300 participants from academia, students, government from Australia and Indonesia, NGOs, media, experts on Indonesia and the general public.

According to Dr Suryadarma, focusing on education is timely given the massive transformation the sector has gone through over the past decade. “Over the period, the country saw the administration of primary and secondary levels decentralized to the regional government, introduction of the new paradigm of school-based management, and public spending on education required by constitution to reach one-fifth of total government spending,” said Dr Suryadarma.

“However, while enrollment rates at all levels continue to increase, quality remains low and has not improved,” he said, “and in addition, The tertiary education sector continues to be dogged by unsatisfactory performance and blurred lines of authority between institutions and government.”

Richard Woolcott, former Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, was in his third time giving the Update’s opening speech. The Conference consistently started with the economic (Paul Burke and Budy Resosudarmo from ANU) and political (Sandra Hamid, Asia Foundation) updates with Neil McCulloch (AusAID, Jakarta) and David Bourchier (UWA, Perth) as discussants. Read more on the economic update at East Asia Forum.

From left: Sandra Hamid, Fasli Jalal, Bill Farmer, HE Primo Julianto, Richard Woolcott, Ross McLeod during the Economic Update


Fasli Jalal, former Indonesia’s vice minister on education, presented the keynote address on policy directions to improve the quality of education and its linkages with the labor market. There were four broad topics covered in this Update: teaching assessment, tertiary education, Islamic education and non-governmental efforts to improve learning, and case studies in education policies. A lively panel discussion on how the quality of education can be improved, with Daniel Suryadarma, Fasli Jalal, Thee Kian Wie, Christopher Bjork and chaired by Ariane Utomo (ADSRI, ANU), ended the Update with thought provoking questions.

A participant raising a question during discussion


Colum Graham from Development Policy Centre wrote a detailed post on the Update at Development Policy blog. An article on this topic by Tim Colebatch, Sydney Morning Herald’s economic editor, can also be read here. CMS Radio Indonesia Program interviewed Daniel Suryadarma, Ninasapti Triaswati, Sandra Hamid and Anies Baswedan regarding the state of education in Indonesia. An excerpt from Bruce Chapman’s presentation on comparative analysis of higher education financing mechanism is also available here. Podcasts and powerpoint presentations from the conference will be available for download from the Update page. Several videos are now available from ANU Indonesia Project Channel.