Education and Schools in Indonesia

Compulsory education in Indonesia lasts for a total of twelve years beginning at age six or seven and is offered at no cost. The school week in Indonesia runs from Monday to Friday, and school hours vary, but most schools run between 7.30am and 2.40pm. This excludes any extra-curricular programmes which can last till around 5.30pm.

A minimum of one year of Indonesian language study is required if a child is to graduate from high school. However, no subject testing will be completed in this language – merely achievement in basic proficiency is required.

Within the Indonesian local compulsory education system, there are two kinds of schools: national schools and national plus schools. Another option is international schools, which is the choice of most expats living in Indonesia.

National schools in Indonesia

National schools are public schools administered by the local government and which follow the Indonesian curriculum. In national schools in Indonesia, the teaching language used is Indonesian and every subject is taught in the Indonesian language by Indonesian teachers.

Local languages are still used in remote parts of the country. The language barrier is one of the main reasons why expat children do not attend national schools in Indonesia, but another reason is the poor quality of education at these institutions.

National plus schools in Indonesia

National plus schools in Indonesia offer a curriculum that both meets and exceeds the requirements of the local Indonesian curriculum, sometimes taught in combination with the International Baccalaureate (IB). Many of these schools teach in English. 

The majority of these schools cater for Indonesian students, with expatriate students often making up only a small proportion of the school's student population. They do, however, accept expat children and these schools are a good alternative for expats who work for companies that do not cover education fees.

International schools in Indonesia

Most expats in Indonesia send their children to international schools. International schools are those schools that offer a foreign curriculum and are officially accredited with the relevant authorities in their home country. 

There has been some confusion with regards to the status of international schools in Indonesia in recent years thanks to new legislation that no longer permits schools to use the word “international” in their title. This has meant that a number of international schools have had to change their names. Children at international schools are also now expected to take part in the national examinations that students at state schools undergo, in addition to the school's own examinations. 

These changes have all been a part of government efforts to tighten regulations surrounding international schools operating in the country and prevent low-quality schools charging a premium for education by merely adding the word “international” to their title.

There are many options when it comes to international schools in Indonesia, with schools catering for expat students from a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, the USA, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and Singapore. Alongside the home curriculum, many of these schools also offer the IB programme.

Tuition fees can be extremely high in these schools, with annual tuition rates varying depending on the school and the age of the child. Many international schools also charge a non-refundable annual capital fee.

Choosing the right international school can be a daunting task for new arrivals. Road traffic can be a problem, particularly in Jakarta, so the location of a school is something to take into consideration when deciding where in a city to live.