Despite Indonesia’s Constitutional Law No. 2/1989 and Law No. 20/2003 that states that nine years of formal education is compulsory for every citizen, cost of participation in education remains the primary cause for students dropping out from basic education. Approximately 33 percent of school dropouts or 16.6 million students leave school before completing junior secondary education. Students who drop out of school before completing junior secondary education (middle school) find themselves more prone to unemployment, are at a higher risk of obtaining less secure work, and are likely to earn much less later in life. Compared to the national unemployment rate of 10.4 percent, around 71 percent of out-of-school 15-18 year olds are unemployed.
Although some effort by the Government of Indonesia to provide financial aid was finally made through its Bantuan Operasional Sekolah (BOS), or Aid for School Operations, the system has been implemented with mixed results. This aid is limited mainly to monthly tuition and also limited to a certain profile of schools. In addition, BOS rarely covers the costs for entrance fees, registration costs, school textbooks, uniforms, and other miscellaneous education-related costs. All of these non-monthly tuition expenses cost as much if not more than twelve months of tuition fees. Finally BOS seems to be currently more properly implemented in the Jakarta region and less so in outlying areas. Chances of secondary school students obtaining BOS are even more minimal and in the case of senior secondary or high school students obtaining BOS remains nil.
For students who have surmounted the challenges of access to education they then face the added obstacle of quality of education. The educational emphasis in the majority of Indonesian schools is on rote learning. The teacher feeds information to the children who write it down, memorize facts, and regurgitate them when tested. As a result, children are finishing school with severely limited critical thinking skills which puts them at a great disadvantage when compared to graduates in other countries who have been taught with methodologies that develop their critical thinking skills. Through needs assessment surveys and observation of the teaching methodologies of teachers in the schools the Emmanuel Foundation supports, it has become apparent that the pedagogy of the Indonesian classroom has fallen several decades behind that of classrooms in many other parts of the world.
To address these alarming education-related problems, the Emmanuel Foundation created the EduNation Outreach Programme to keep tens of thousands of poor and disadvantaged children living outside of Jakarta in school. Although the core of our programme has initially concentrated on access to education and scholarships, our programme is unique in that it has a variety of support components such as tutoring, mentoring, workshops, university studies, work placement, and a focus on its alumni.
In addition, the Emmanuel Foundation created the Innovative Schools Programme to provide long-term teacher training to schools. Together these two programmes focusing on education were created and developed to (1) maximize the results of our long-term investment in students’ education, (2) develop their full potential and (3) improve their chances of success in life.