Education and youth


Priority Issues

UNICEF in Action



© UNICEF Indonesia/2016/ Radit


Indonesia has a high overall youth literacy rate of 99 per cent and has made tremendous progress in ensuring 99 per cent of children aged between 7 and 12 years old are attending primary or junior secondary school. However, still many children do not transition from primary to secondary school, particularly children from poor families and rural areas.

Junior secondary aged children in rural areas are 1.5 times as likely not to attend school compared to those in urban areas. Meanwhile, children from the poorest households are four times more likely to be out of school than those in the richest.

In total, approximately 4.5 million Indonesian children who should be in school are not. That’s 270,000 children of primary school age (7-12 years), 750,000 of junior secondary school age (13-15 years), and 3.5 million of senior secondary school age (16-18 years). Meanwhile, 67 per cent of school aged children with disabilities are out of school.

Learning outcomes among Indonesian children require substantial improvement to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) in education adopted by the Government. More than half (55%) of 15-year-old students are “low achievers” in reading. In mathematics, it is more than two-thirds (69%). Similarly, at primary level, many children struggle to acquire even the most basic academic skills with only 50 per cent of 4th Grade students meeting low international benchmarks in mathematics and science.

Inadequate understanding of the value of early childhood development, by families, society, and among planners means that 30 per cent of Indonesian children aged 3 to 6 years do not benefit from early childhood education.

Additionally, in rural and remote parts of Indonesia, early childhood development services are either absent, inaccessible or unaffordable to most children, meaning they miss out on valuable early learning and development opportunities that their urban counterparts receive.

Compounding these barriers to access, teachers in marginalized areas have inadequate training on holistic approaches to early childhood development that integrate health, nutrition, safety and psycho-social stimulation. 

An estimated 37 per cent of children under the age of 5 are stunted due to nutritional and WASH deficiencies which further affects their educational development.

Indonesia is situated in one of the world’s most active disaster hotspots and is at high risk of a variety of natural hazards, including earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption, flood, landslide, drought and forest fires. Of 34 provinces in Indonesia, 30 are in high risk and four are in medium risk zones. Most disasters affect schools. During the period of 2014-2016, major disasters affected more than 31,000 schools in Indonesia.



Priority Issues

© UNICEF Indonesia/2017/Watson

Basic Education for All
UNICEF is working closely with Government, community groups, and other partners to enable Indonesia to meet SDG 4 for inclusive and equitable quality education for all children. Despite overall high enrollment rates, some 4.5 million Indonesians aged 7-18 years are not in school; children with disabilities, from poor families or living in rural areas are more likely to be out of school. In addition, many Indonesian children do not finish all levels of formal education; 1 in 10 children do not transition from primary to junior secondary level and almost 1 in 5 children who complete junior secondary do not continue into the final years of their education. Meanwhile, just one-third of children with disabilities participate in formal schooling. Much of UNICEF’s work is focused on building government capacity through evidence generation, knowledge sharing, capacity building and innovation to ensure that children are enrolling, staying in, and learning while in school.


Early Grade Literacy
Papua and West Papua Provinces have the highest rates of illiteracy in Indonesia. Some 37 per cent of Papuans and 12 per cent of West Papuans cannot read, compared to 8 per cent of Indonesians nationally. Illiteracy rates are much higher in rural areas (49 per cent) than urban areas (5 per cent) and these disparities become more pronounced in remote highland districts with poor access to education where between 48 and 92 per cent of the population are illiterate. UNICEF is working to develop culturally and developmentally appropriate learning materials to help empower children as learners, and on the job training to empower teachers as professionals.


Early Childhood Development
 UNICEF aims to increase participation in quality early childhood development (ECD) education by strengthening partners’ capacity to deliver high-quality early services and advocating for publicly funded pre-primary education. Providing universal access to ECD and developmentally appropriate school readiness programmes is essential to achieving the SDG goals. However, more than 22,000 villages do not have ECD centres (known as PAUD in Indonesia) and only 24 per cent of PAUD teachers have appropriate educational qualifications. Quality is further compromised by a lack of adequate classrooms, play areas, age-appropriate curriculum, and learning materials. The poorest quintile of children is far less likely to benefit from ECD and some of them start school late.


Education for Adolescent Development
 Adolescents account for 18 per cent of Indonesia’s population but despite Indonesia’s economic growth, opportunities have not always translated into gains for adolescents. This high proportion of young people hold the key to Indonesia achieving the SDGs by 2030; yet, adolescents face a wide range of risks and challenges including: child marriage, adolescent pregnancy, bullying as well as missing school due to menstruation and physical attacks in schools. Approximately 29 per cent of 16-18 year olds have dropped out of school. UNICEF works with government and communities to increase adolescents’ participation in both formal and life-skills based education programmes and advocate for policies and services that are responsive to their needs and capabilities and have the potential to break cycles of poverty, discrimination and violence.


Education in Emergencies
Most areas in Indonesia are prone to natural disasters and the number of climate-related extreme events is increasing significantly. Children are especially vulnerable to disasters, risking negative health, education and protection impacts. At least 75 per cent of schools are in disaster prone areas. UNICEF supports the government to play a leading role in ensuring safe schools and education for children affected by emergencies.



UNICEF in Action

© UNICEF Indonesia/2017/Watson

Out-of-School Children Strategy  
UNICEF is working with the Government to develop a national strategy for out-of-school children and a review of the current interventions and data collection mechanisms.

While the Government has developed impressive tools to address the direct cost of schooling, UNICEF supports government programmes to make school affordable for all children by developing a model of evidence-based education planning to facilitate universal education for all children through provision of micro data on out-of-school children and other related issues at local level.

 Improving literacy in the early grades
Some 37 per cent of Papuans and 12 per cent of West Papuans are illiterate, compared to 8 per cent of Indonesians nationally. This initiative targets 120 primary schools in rural and remote areas with pilots of two models for intervention – one based on training groups of teachers, the other on mentoring visits to individual teachers – designed to provide support tailored to the needs of the target schools. The program focuses on improving the quality of teaching and learning in target schools, with the long-term aim of developing a replicable model for improving early grade literacy outcomes in rural and remote areas.  

Inclusive education

Special initiatives to improve education participation of children with disabilities are undertaken through capacity improvement of inclusive education stakeholders to cater for children with different abilities, using sports as entry point. Advocacy efforts and evidence generation are also carried out to lay the foundations for a strong enabling environment of Inclusive Education at national and sub-national as shown by budgeted planned and dedicated human resources.

Life skills education

UNICEF in cooperation with Papua Education authorities has been involved in curriculum development on life skills education for adolescents in schools across the province. This curriculum aims to increase their knowledge and skills to enable them to make informed decisions that affect their lives and communities. A partnership with a teacher training college has been established and trained over 830 teacher trainees so far (62% female) to deliver life skills education classes to adolescents in secondary schools in three districts in Tanah Papua.

Adolescent participation

UNICEF supports adolescents who live in disaster prone areas, building their skills and resilience to be able to solve issues before, during and after emergencies. Adolescents and youth are also empowered as agents of change to contribute to the SDG agenda in Indonesia through consultations with Government and participation in sub-national planning mechanisms.

Safe school

UNICEF also supports the Ministry of Education and Culture (MoEC) in emergency response through technical advice, pre-positioning stock, as well as playing a coordination role as co-lead in Inter-Agency Standing Committee Education Cluster and focal point for National Cluster of Education together with Save the Children.




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