A demonstrator dressed in primary school uniform carries a sign reading: ‘Help, Sir. Make my teacher a civil servant. Have mercy, Sir. Their salary is just Rp.300k [AUD$28.50].’ (Credit: CNN Indonesia/Adhi Wicaksono)
The second of May marks National Education Day in Indonesia. The Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Technology both shared the same message: that university research must be innovative to face the digital era and provide real solutions to social problems in Indonesia. While hundreds of educators were rewarded for years of service, the low wage of temporary teachers once again came under the spotlight.
The Minister of Education and Culture Muhadjir Effendy invited teachers and cultural actors to adjust to the developments of the times, particularly as Indonesia enters ‘Industrial Revolution 4.0,’ which revolves around digital technology.
He described school reform, teacher capacity building, a dynamic curriculum, and cutting-edge learning technology as “inevitable for education”.
Constant infrastructure development by the government had to be accompanied by planned human resource development, he said, and promised to prioritise infrastructure development in the outermost regions.
The Minister asked his staff to be open to criticism and to use it to improve education and culture.
Hundreds of educators across Indonesia were awarded the Satya Lencana Karya Satya Medal, for their years of service.
Minister Mohamad Nasir stated, “In this modern era, research at universities must be innovative to help drive the nation’s economy.”
“We have not,” he continued, “really seen any results from universities that constitute innovative research.”
“From the perspective of society, higher education is seen as just another level of education,” he stated. “This is a challenge faced by all higher education institutions.”
The Ministry’s theme for National Education Day 2018 was thus ‘Grounding Higher Education, Improving the Quality of Human Resources.’
“This theme is to highlight that higher education in Indonesia must be able to address current social problems” he said, giving the ‘Industrial Revolution 4.0’ as an important example of a social problem.
“Indonesia’s Tri Dharma, or three pillars, of higher education – education, research and community service – must be grounded. This means learning materials in classrooms, laboratories, and open spaces must be contextualised with real world applications.”
National Education Day provided a time for the government to highlight the fate of educators, specifically those on honorary (temporary) status.
A number of temporary teachers demanded that the government appoint them to civil servant status (PNS). They took to the streets in a demonstration, demanding clarity on their status after their years of service.
The very low salary of temporary teachers was highlighted again this year. A teacher’s social media post of their salary slip went viral – displaying only Rp.35,000 (AUD$3.35) per month, for teaching six hours per week.
Education and Counselling Coordinator of the Human Rights Commission, Beka Ulung Hapsara, suggested the Ministry of Education coordinate with education offices at provincial, regency and municipal levels to ensure that the appointment of temporary teachers was based on demand, and that it did not involve corruption, collusion and nepotism (KKN).
At the end of March, the Minister of Education and Culture asked the Minister of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform (KemenPAN-RB) to open one hundred thousand civil servant vacancies for teachers.
Anas Adam from KemenPAN-RB responded that they hoped temporary teachers would receive a wage according to regional minimum wage policies. One problem here is not all teachers teach the required 24 hours per week – and anything below that amount is waged based on hourly rates, which are not uniform in each region.
KemenPAN-RB also advised local governments to improve the distribution teachers. “Small salaries” a spokesperson said, “are due to unequal distribution of teachers.”