Education in Indonesia


Education in Indonesia is the responsibility of the Ministry of National Education of Indonesia (Kementerian Pendidikan Nasional Republik Indonesia/Kemdiknas), formerly the Department of Education and Culture of Indonesia (Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan Republik Indonesia/Depdikbud). In Indonesia, all citizens must undertake nine years of compulsory education, six years at elementary level and three in junior high school.

Education is defined as a planned effort to establish a study environment and education process so that the student may actively develop his/her own potential to gain the religious and spiritual level, consciousness, personality, intelligence, behaviour and creativity to him/herself, other citizens and for the nation. The constitution also notes that education in Indonesia is divided into two major parts, formal and non-formal. Formal education is divided again into three levels, primary, secondary and tertiary education.


From birth until the age of 3, Indonesian children generally do not have access to formal education. From the age of 3 to 4 or 5, they attend kindergarten (Taman Kanak-Kanak). This education is not compulsory for Indonesian citizens, as the aim of this is to prepare them for primary school. Of the forty-nine thousand kindergartens in Indonesia 99.35% are privately operated schools. The kindergarten years are usually divided into “Class A” and “Class B” students spending a year in each class.

Elementary School

Children ages 6-11 attend Sekolah Dasar (SD), literally Elementary School. This level of education is compulsory for all Indonesian citizens, based on the national constitution. In contrast to the majority of privately run kindergartens, most elementary schools are government operated public schools, accounting for 93% of all elementary schools in Indonesia. Similar to education systems in the US and Australia, students must study for six years to complete this level. Some schools offer an accelerated learning program, where students who perform well can finish elementary school in five years.

Junior High School

Junior High school, generally known by the abbreviation ‘SMP’ (Sekolah Menengah Pertama) is part of primary education in Indonesia. After graduating from elementary school, students attend Middle School for three years from the age of 12-14. After three years of schooling and graduation, students may move on to Senior High School.

Senior High School

In Indonesia, there are two types of senior high school. First is generally known as by the abbreviation ‘SMA’ (Sekolah Menengah Atas) and second is SMK (Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan). SMA differ than SMK in their studies. The students at SMA are prepared to continue their study to university while students of SMK are prepared to be ready to work after finishing their school without going to university/college. SMA is simply the university-preparatory school while SMK is the vocational school. Based on the national constitution, Indonesian citizens do not have to attend high school as the citizens only require nine years of education. This is also reflected by the number of high schools in Indonesia, with just slightly below 9,000 schools.

Higher Education

After graduation from High school or college, students may attend a university (higher education). The higher education institution is categorised in two types: public and private which supervised by Ministry of National Education. There are three types of higher education institution: Universities, Institutes and Academy or college.

There are different degrees in higher education, namely Diploma 3 (D3), Diploma 4 (D4), Strata 1 (S1), Strata 2 (S2) and Strata 3 (S3).

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