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Indonesia’s biggest challenge regarding education is no longer improving access but improving quality. The Indonesian Government hopes to develop a ‘world-class’ education system by 2025. However, numerous assessments of the country’s education performance suggest that it has a long way to go before it will achieve that goal. Many Indonesian teachers and lecturers lack the required subject knowledge and pedagogical skills to be effective educators; learning outcomes for students are poor; and there is a disparity between the skills of graduates and the needs of employers.

This Analysis explores the reasons behind these problems and the implications for Australian education providers. It argues that Indonesia’s poor education performance has not simply been a matter of low public spending on education, human resource deficits, perverse incentive structures, and poor management. It has, at its root, been a matter of politics and power. Change in the quality of Indonesia’s education system thus depends on a shift in the balance of power between competing coalitions that have a stake in the nature of education policy and its implementation. This barrier to improved educational performance is likely to limit the scope for Australian education providers to develop closer research linkages with Indonesian universities, offer Australian students more in-country study options in Indonesia, recruit greater numbers of Indonesian students, and establish branch campuses in Indonesia.

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