Opinion | Future-Proofing Our Education with the New Bill

First published in The Jakarta Post (09/06/2022)


It has been a couple of months since the Education, Culture, Research and Technology Ministry started an internal discussion on the revision of the National Education System Law No. 20/2003 to make it more relevant.


The 19-year-old law is considered no longer able to accommodate the dynamic changes in the country’s educational trajectory and priorities, especially now that COVID-19 has altered our perspective on education.


Given the importance of the bill and how vital its role in governing Indonesia’s education system, stakeholders are keeping a close eye on its progress. However, the draft bill has not been made public so far and was only made available to a select group of people and organizations who had participated in the draft bill's internal discussion.


The lack of transparency has only fueled public suspicion and discouraged any productive discourse, leading to numerous arguments and counterarguments between the ministry and educational organizations in the media, which hardly contribute to a constructive public discussion.

The lack of transparency has only fueled public suspicion and discouraged any productive discourse, leading to numerous arguments and counterarguments between the ministry and educational organizations in the media, which hardly contribute to a constructive public discussion. Despite growing public pressure to get the draft published, the ministry maintains that the draft bill is still "in the planning stage".


As in the drafting of the controversial job creation bill, the government and the House of Representatives have stated the new national education system legislation will integrate and harmonize all education-related regulations, which include Teachers’ Law No. 14/2005, Higher Education Law No. 12/2012 and the 2003 National Education System Law.

The Chairman of the Indonesian Teachers’ Association (PGRI), however, said there were actually around 23 education-related laws that needed to be synchronized under the new legislation.


While the draft bill covers many important issues, two teachers’ organizations involved in the internal discussion with the Education Ministry pointed out that the draft has yet to include the most important element, namely a provision on the building of a resilient Indonesian education system. The groups believe such an issue is critical to mitigating the shock of future events that may disrupt learning activities, as in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Teachers may deem this topic to be crucial as they were among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Teachers were unprepared and poorly supported during the pandemic, thus affecting their physical and mental health as well as their ability to cope with various distance-learning challenges. The challenges included the lack of access to gadgets and the internet and difficulties in appropriately integrating technology into their learning.


Resilience, by definition, refers to the ability to cope with, adapt to and bounce back from difficult times. In the context of education, the system must be equipped with instruments and mechanisms that enable it to appropriately respond to changing circumstances.


The concept of resilient education becomes a predominant education discourse, particularly with the lessons learned in the post-pandemic era. Building resilience has become the focus of education systems such as natural disasters, health emergencies or any other unpredictable global challenges.


Building resilience has become the focus of education systems such as natural disasters, health emergencies or any other unpredictable global challenges.

A lack of resilience is harmful. In the context of the pandemic, a severe learning loss equivalent to six and five months in literacy and numeracy was suffered by most elementary school students in Indonesia (Education, Culture, Research and Technology Ministry, 2021). This could have lasting negative impacts, such as deterioration of overall quality of life for future generations and a decline in lifetime earnings (World Bank, 2021).


The pandemic has shown that making various learning tools and methods more accessible was necessary for building resilience. Students and teachers, especially those from marginalized communities, should have equitable access to whatever educational resources they need, especially in the face of adversity.


A resilient education also means improving the resilience of education stakeholders, particularly students and teachers, by equipping them with skills, knowledge and competencies to adapt to continuously changing circumstances.


Teachers must be encouraged to acquire new skills in order to better assist their students in learning important skills such as basic numeracy, literacy, digital skills and soft skills such as teamwork and problem solving, or even disaster knowledge and management.


To ensure the government's commitment to providing equitable access to education for all, the bill should reflect this commitment. Building the necessary infrastructures to ensure resiliency, particularly accessible and affordable education and communication technology for all, becomes imperative.


The draft should also facilitate a comprehensive teachers’ professional development system to strengthen their capacity in assisting students to acquire the necessary skills that would help them prosper in the future.

The draft should also facilitate a comprehensive teachers’ professional development system to strengthen their capacity in assisting students to acquire the necessary skills that would help them prosper in the future.


Teachers Law No. 14/2005 stipulates that teachers must receive the necessary training and career development. The draft bill could emphasize the building of knowledge and competencies for teachers with future-proofing orientation, such as digital skills in addition to pedagogical skills and content knowledge.


Lastly, the draft bill must emphasize the importance of collaborations among education stakeholders, such as the central and local governments, civil society, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, school leaders, teachers, students and parents in achieving a resilient education system (UNICEF, 2020).


To establish effective collaboration, all stakeholders should be well-informed on the concept of resilience education and understand their respective roles in ensuring timely, well-coordinated responses to difficult times.


These all will allow the new law on the national education system to open the path to a resilient national education system that would be able to adapt to any change without much disruption.



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