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Educational System in Indonesia

The one tip that you hear expats living in Indonesia repeatedly sharing with newcomers is not to buy a home when you first move to Indonesia. Rent for a few months or longer so that you have time to find the right neighborhood. Give yourself time to ensure that Indonesia is right for you for the long term. If you've already taken time to do those things and are ready to take the plunge and become a property owner, here are tips about buying a home in Indonesia.
|-Educational System in Indonesia

Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, has a diverse and multi-layered educational system. The system is overseen by the Ministry of Education and Culture (for primary and secondary education) and the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education (for tertiary education). Education is compulsory for children aged 6 to 15, and is divided into several stages. This guide aims to provide expats with a comprehensive understanding of the Indonesian educational system, including the main stages of education, enrollment procedures, language requirements, public and private schooling options, and alternative education methods such as homeschooling and online schooling.

What are the main stages of education in Indonesia?

The Indonesian educational system is divided into several stages: kindergarten (taman kanak-kanak or TK), elementary school (sekolah dasar or SD), junior high school (sekolah menengah pertama or SMP), senior high school (sekolah menengah atas or SMA), and tertiary education. Each stage has a specific age range and educational focus.

Kindergarten (Taman Kanak-Kanak)

Kindergarten, or Taman Kanak-Kanak (TK), is for children aged 3 to 6. This stage focuses on basic cognitive and social skills development. While not compulsory, many Indonesian parents send their children to TK to prepare them for elementary school.

Elementary School (Sekolah Dasar)

Elementary school, or Sekolah Dasar (SD), is for children aged 6 to 12. This stage is compulsory and covers basic subjects such as Indonesian, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and physical education.

Junior High School (Sekolah Menengah Pertama)

Junior high school, or Sekolah Menengah Pertama (SMP), is for students aged 12 to 15. This stage is also compulsory and builds on the subjects taught in elementary school, with the addition of English and ICT.

Senior High School (Sekolah Menengah Atas)

Senior high school, or Sekolah Menengah Atas (SMA), is for students aged 15 to 18. This stage is not compulsory but is required for those who wish to pursue tertiary education. Students can choose between general and vocational high schools, depending on their career aspirations.

How does a newcomer from a different country enroll their kids in school?

Newcomers can enroll their children in Indonesian schools by submitting an application to the school of their choice, along with the necessary documents such as a birth certificate, passport, and previous school records. Some schools may also require an entrance exam.

My children are still learning Indonesian, can they enroll in a public school?

Yes, children who are still learning Indonesian can enroll in public schools. However, they may face language barriers as the medium of instruction in public schools is Indonesian. Some schools offer additional Indonesian language classes for non-native speakers.

Are there public bilingual schools?

Yes, there are public bilingual schools in Indonesia, particularly in major cities like Jakarta and Surabaya. These schools offer instruction in both Indonesian and English. Admission procedures for international students vary by school, so it’s best to contact the school directly for information.

What types of private schools are common in Indonesia?

Private schools in Indonesia include religious schools (such as Catholic and Islamic schools), international schools, and bilingual schools. International schools often follow an international curriculum and use English as the medium of instruction.

Do expats typically send their children to public or private school?

Expats in Indonesia typically send their children to private schools, particularly international schools, due to the language of instruction and curriculum similarities to their home countries.

How expensive are Private schools in Indonesia?

Private school fees in Indonesia vary widely, with international schools being the most expensive. Fees can range from a few million rupiah per year for local private schools to over a billion rupiah per year for top international schools.

Are you allowed to homeschool while living in Indonesia?

Yes, homeschooling is allowed in Indonesia. The Ministry of Education and Culture provides a homeschooling curriculum and guidelines for parents who wish to educate their children at home.

May kids attend online school instead of a local school while living in Indonesia?

Yes, children can attend online schools while living in Indonesia. However, it’s important to ensure that the online school is accredited and that the curriculum meets the educational standards of your home country.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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