The Republic of Indonesia is one of the Southeast Asian countries. The country is a highly diverse island archipelago consisting of around 13,000 islands along the equator between Asia and Australia. The five principal islands are Sumatera, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua (the western part of New Guinea island). It has a population of 242 million (2005) that comprises of about 3,000 ethnic groups. Indonesia is currently the world’s fourth most populous nation, after China, India and the US. With a GDP per capita of USD 1420 (USD 3310 in PPP terms), the country is classified as a lower-middle-income country (World Bank 2008).
According to the current Indonesian national education system, the levels of education in the school system consist of basic education, secondary education, and higher education. Basic education consists of six years of elementary education and three years of junior secondary schools, which has been declared “Nine-year Compulsory Education” since 1994. Secondary education consists of three years of schooling at general senior secondary schools or vocational senior secondary schools. Indonesia has approximately 170,000 elementary schools, 35,000 junior high schools, 20.000 general senior secondary schools, and 6,000 vocational senior secondary schools. These schools serve around 30.000.000 students in elementary school, 10.000.000 students in junior secondary school, 4.300.000 students in general senior secondary school, and 2.300.000 students in vocational secondary school. The number of schools has increased 4.2 times during the last 35 years. Through this development, the net enrolment ratio (NER) has already achieved 94.30% for elementary schools, 62.06% for junior secondary schools, and 42.64% for general and vocational senior secondary schools (Ministry of National Education 2006).
There are three main priorities that have been determined by the government to develop education in Indonesia: improving equity and access, enhancing quality and relevance, and strengthening management and accountability. However, the focus on achieving the target in completing the basic education program (elementary and junior high schools) by the end of the first decade in the 21st century has given more attention to access than to that of quality and management. Efforts in improving the education in Indonesia have encountered various obstacles: limitations in learning facilities; inadequate quantity, quality, and welfare of teachers; and limitation in the budget for education. As a consequence, the quality of school education in Indonesia has not developed as well as others as indicated by the achievement of 8th grade Indonesian students in TIMSS (Trends in Mathematics and Science Study) in the year 2003, gaining rank 34 for math and 36 for science out of 45 participating countries (Martin et al. 2004).
After political and economic crises, the education reforms in Indonesia were determined by the enactment of Law Number 20 Year 2003 on the National Education System as the legal framework for the development of education. The Law guarantees that students in the basic education program are free from any fees in order to facilitate easier access to education. The Law also determines the standards of curriculum content, processes of education, competency of graduates, personnel in education, facilities, management, funding, and learning assessment as reference points to maintain education quality assurance, and quality control. The management of formal education in elementary and secondary schools is addressed in the Law Number 20 Year 2003 in which the implementation is done through the principles of school-based management as the realization of educational democracy. With this principle, schools are given the freedom to manage schools independently and to get support from people in society to improve the quality of school services. The dynamics of schooling in Indonesia, started since the enactment of Law Number 20 Year 2003, indicate a paradigm shift in school management as implied by the new law.
The Strategic Plan of the Ministry of National Education 2005-2009 (Ministry of National Education 2005) puts priority on the implementation of new practices in school management in the context of decentralization of education, such as developing a school-level curriculum. This refers to national standards, formulated by school committees whose members consist of representatives of society who pay close attention to schools. In line with these ideas, the government maintains a few programs, such as teacher certification, a “block grant” for school operating assistance, school accreditation, and national examinations in order to facilitate school quality improvement (Karlimah 2006). Moreover, technical assistance is provided by several donor countries to undertake pilot projects to develop models of school management, teacher professionalism, and quality of learning. In addition, the existence ofinternational schools in various cities in Indonesia has also provided models of good practices in the management of quality school education that can be adopted in local contexts. These new schooling phenomena can form a synergistic scenario of school restructuring that has been and will be continuously implemented in Indonesia. School restructuring is a concept that represents fundamental changes in all aspects of schooling, including its mission and goals, organization and management, curriculum and instruction, educator roles and responsibilities, parent and community involvement, and school finance, in ways that lead to improved student learning outcomes (Harvey & Crandall 1988).
Considering the large number of schools and wide geographical distribution of the schools in Indonesia, processes to achieve established school programs and management resulting in even distribution of quality education in Indonesia will be continuing for up to 10-15 more years. Therefore, the features of future schooling in Indonesia will be fully dependent on the scenario of school restructuring as described above. Further description of school restructuring practices in Indonesia is explored in this paper in order to provide a more comprehensive understanding about the processes leading to the formation of future schooling in Indonesia. The features of future schooling in Indonesia are then presented at the end of this paper as predictions based on the school restructuring processes which is happening at this moment and will continue in the coming years.