Same, same but different: What to Expect from Indonesia’s New Government

Ina Liem, provides her analysis of the impact of the recent Indonesian Presidential elections on the international education sector.

Author: Ina Liem Acumen Senior Advisor, Indonesia

Indonesia’s new government will continue the focus on improving education quality, building on the previous government’s policy of Merdeka Belajar (Freedom of Learning). This points to a positive environment for the international education sector in Indonesia, with more scholarships for overseas study and an increased focus on training in key government priority areas, including health, agriculture, aquaculture, energy and energy transitions.

Indonesia’s recent presidential election saw former Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto secure almost 60% of the vote, and a first round victory in the election. While one of the losing candidates has filed a legal challenge to the results, the margin of victory means there have been limited protests to date and a smooth transition is expected. The official inauguration is scheduled for October 20, 2024.

During the election, Prabowo Subianto was viewed as a continuity candidate, with a commitment to uphold and advance President Jokowi’s developmental strategies. It is also expected however, that the new President will have his own distinct slant on Indonesia’s direction in the coming years, with a stronger nationalistic focus in some areas, where it benefits Indonesia to have one, although education is not expected to be one of those areas. There is also an expectation of improved revenue collection to support increased public spending.

In the education sector, Prabowo Subianto’s election promises point to a focus on improving the quality of education and include the following: 

  1. Provision of complementary lunches and milk for students in both conventional schools and Islamic boarding schools.
  2. Establishment of superior educational institutions in every district (there are 416 districts across Indonesia’s 38 provinces). 
  3. Commitment to short-term training opportunities for aspiring teachers, aiming to enrich their skill sets and cultivate internationally competent teaching staff.
  4. Allocation of 10,000 scholarships for overseas study, specifically in the fields of medicine and STEM.
  5. Ambitious plans to triple the number of medical schools, from the existing 92 to an envisioned 300, with the ultimate goal of training an additional 140,000 doctors to add to the existing 170,000 doctors in Indonesia
  6. Construction of hospitals in each district to bolster healthcare infrastructure.

While uncertainties remain regarding potential ministerial changes, the educational paradigm shift Merdeka Belajar (Freedom of Learning) introduced by the current minister Nadiem Makarim is poised to continue under the next government.

So how will this impact the international education sector? Our initial assessment is positive, based on the following factors:

  1. A continued focus on improving quality of education in Indonesia covering K12, vocational, higher education and ongoing professional development.
  2. An increased focus on training in core priority sectors – including health, aquaculture, agriculture, energy and energy transitions.
  3. Recognition of the role that international collaboration can play in supporting government objectives.
  4. An increase in government funding for scholarships abroad.
  5. A continuation of recent regulatory shifts in Transnational Education, enabling more foreign institutions to engage more effectively in Indonesia, including through International Branch campuses, vocation colleges and joint programs.

The key thing for international institutions looking to engage with Indonesia is to pay close attention to how their activities support Indonesia’s development agenda, and bring benefit to Indonesia. 

Please get in touch if we can assist you achieve your goals  in Indonesia!