Insights from INOVASI is a reflection on the achievements and lessons from the eight-year partnership between the Government of Australia and Government of Indonesia through the INOVASI program, depicted within a broader exploration of Indonesia’s own journey in education reform.

Volume 1: Indonesia’s Twenty-Year Education Reform Journey

Indonesia has made significant progress in education reform. Public expenditure on education has grown significantly, access to school has been expanded, and education reforms have provided Indonesian children with basic skills. But despite this, children’s learning outcomes have not yet significantly improved. The report concludes that Indonesia’s current reforms, including a new national curriculum and assessment system, have the potential to improve educational outcomes for all Indonesian children.

Real change takes time

The report suggests the government and broader community allow time for implementation of education reform. While curriculum change in well-established education systems is typically a six to ten-year process, Indonesia has introduced four new curricula in the last twenty years. The evidence of this study suggests that an incremental continuous improvement approach to curriculum and assessment, based on evidence from implementation, would be far more effective.

Transforming the trajectory of education

Education reforms have successfully transformed the trajectory of education in Indonesia, shifting from expanding access to delivering quality, changing mindsets from teacher-centred to student centred, from passive to active, and from compliance to empowered decision making.

Insights from INOVASI describes the progress of education reforms over the past two decades in four key aspects of education management: improving the qualifications and management of the teaching workforce; school quality assurance; curriculum; and national assessment of learning. This culminates in the current comprehensive and integrated reform agenda that builds on 20 years of reform and is rooted in the educational philosophy of Ki Hajar Dewantara.

The new national curriculum was launched in 2022 and conceived both as a means of addressing COVID-19 pandemic learning loss in the intermediate term and improving educational outcomes in the longer term. It was designed to free up the teaching and learning process, provide resources for less-skilled teachers, and enable teachers to make decisions about how to best design and deliver the curriculum at the school level.


Volume 2: INOVASI and the Reform of Indonesian Education

The second volume describes what works to improve children’s learning, analyses the development approaches which contribute to policy development and concludes that development assistance can be highly effective when it works within the system and adapts to the evolving context.

Doing things differently in the education development sector

INOVASI contributed to policy improvement, take-up, and implementation, both nationally and in its partner districts, West Nusa Tenggara, North Kalimantan, NTT, and East Java. In 2016, Phase I began with a subnational emphasis; to find out what works in schools and districts to improve learning outcomes for all students. INOVASI adopted flexible development approaches, and brought stakeholders together to identify problems, pilot local solutions, and scale-out out tested strategies.

74 locally contextualised pilots in schools and districts from Phase I provided baseline evidence of student literacy and numeracy skills, and identified strategies that improved learning; provision of appropriate reading materials, concrete aids to enhance numeracy learning, introduction of diagnostic assessments, remedial reading programs, and ‘reading camps’ for differentiated literacy learning. Consideration for gender equality, social inclusion and child protection was built into the design, implementation and evaluation of all activities and programs.

Results of pilots and studies were disseminated among government stakeholders through events at national and provincial levels, with evidence from the pilots becoming a catalyst for reform at the district, school, and classroom levels. District education offices made use of the data to identify and address weaknesses in the teaching of foundational skills while INOVASI worked to escalate the findings to the national level.

Implementation and changes in context

INOVASI Phase II commenced in mid 2020, in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. The national government requested INOVASI’s support with alternative schooling options and to address learning loss. INOVASI subsequently supported partner districts to maintain learning during the pandemic; supported teachers with the essential skills focus of the new Emergency Curriculum and, when schools reopened, to identify what learning was missing and strategise how to close the gaps.

INOVASI supported the government to launch a comprehensive reform agenda for basic education, engaging closely with policy makers, providing constant feedback and exposure of national teams to effective facilitation of change at district level, and providing comprehensive support for teachers through the production of accessible resources.

Throughout the program, INOVASI has proven a critical friend of government, at national and subnational levels, and ensured the program’s long-term sustainability by collaborating with more than 1,000 partners by the end of Phase II. The program has accelerated sustainable improvements to children’s learning outcomes – especially in the foundational skills of literacy, numeracy, and character education.