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Within the Indonesian education system, there are two kinds of schools: public (national) schools and private (national plus) schools. Another option is international schools, which is the choice of most expats living 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 3pm. 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.
Public schools in Indonesia
National schools are public schools administered by the local government which follow the Indonesian curriculum. In national schools in Indonesia, the teaching language used is Bahasa Indonesia and every subject is taught in the local language by local teachers.
Other indigenous languages are still used in remote parts of the country. The language barrier is one of the main reasons that expat children do not commonly attend public schools in Indonesia, but another reason is the poor quality of education at these institutions.
Private schools in Indonesia
National plus schools in Indonesia are private schools which 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 also teach in English.
The majority of these schools cater to Indonesian students, with foreign students often making up only a small proportion of the school's student body. They do, however, accept expat children and these schools are a more affordable alternative to international schools 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 which offer a foreign curriculum and are officially accredited by 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 which 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 international 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 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.
►See International Schools in Jakarta for a list of international schools in the city
Are you an expat living in Indonesia?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Indonesia. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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