Beginning in late 2019, the Indonesian government embarked on a series of systemic education reforms, collectively referred to as Merdeka Belajar (Emancipated Learning). These reforms are set to improve learning outcomes, promote quality, and equitable education for all Indonesian students by creating changes in the learning paradigm and practice, empowering educators and school leaders, and encouraging active engagement of the entire education ecosystem.

This report is the second in the learning gap study series. It includes a case study of learning loss in INOVASI partner schools, adding to the evidence base for why this curriculum reform is necessary. The study, undertaken by the Centre for Education Policy and Standards (Pusat Standar dan Kebijakan Pendidikan, or PSKP) of the Ministry of Education and Culture, Research and Technology (MoECRT) and INOVASI (Innovation for Indonesia’s School Children) highlights the need for a curriculum framework that clearly sets out the key knowledge, understanding, and skills that students need to learn as they progress through school, particularly literacy and numeracy in the early grades. Equally important is the need to develop teachers’ capacities for quality teaching, differentiated learning, and assessment to determine student learning needs and to monitor progress and attainment.

The purpose of this report is to describe the key features of Indonesia’s new curriculum and its development, and to provide evidence on what policy and support provision will help meet its aims, especially in the context of COVID-19 pandemic-related learning loss. The report is intended to inform planning and policy development by contributing to evidence about the need for an improved curriculum, better quality instruction, and well-designed implementation to ensure that students across the breadth and diversity of Indonesia have improved opportunities to learn at school. This is crucial if Indonesia is to address the persistent issue of low educational attainment and learning loss.

This report endorses the launch of Kurikulum Merdeka (KM; Emancipated Curriculum), elaborating on what, why, and how the new curriculum has come about and how its implementation is expected to contribute to better learning outcomes across regions and groups of Indonesian students.