T Sila Wikaningtyas

“My child used to go to a public school, but the students there oftenget into brawls with another school. His school could not control the students so I decided to move him to this private school. The school has better discipline and the teachers here are more diligent.”

(Parent of a student at SMP Nusantara)

Parents and School Decision Making

Parents have the freedom to choose which school they send their children to and they pay for their children’s education, so they need to have a say in some of the ways the school is run, as well. Unfortunately, the parents that we interviewed in Koja reported that they have not been involved in school decision making, including regarding the school budget and expenditures. A recent report from OECD/Asian Development Bank (2015) suggests that this has become the norm in Indonesia.

Although parents did not have a say in school management, the OECD/Asian Development Bank report observed parents waiting outside the schools for a long period during school hours, which our survey team in Koja also witnessed, especially at primary schools. One parent explained that this allows them to meet and chat with other parents about the issues related to the school (Personal Interview, May 2017). This demonstrates a desire to be more involved.


Most parents that we interviewed reported that their only direct communication with the schools was with their children’s homeroom teachers regarding the child’s academic achievements. A few reported involvement in some kind of parent-teacher association, which can be a powerful forum through which parents can express concerns and provide input regarding their children’s performance and on school management. In other words, it can be a way for parents to be more involved in school decision-making.

In the Indonesian education system, the ‘school committee’ is an integral part of school management. The school committee consists of representatives from parents, community members, and education experts. To encourage the participation of local communities and to improve accountability, a policy reform providing the legal basis for the school committee and school-based management was made in 2003 (World Bank, 2015). In spite of this policy change, the school committee is still an underutilized resource, not actively involved in school decision making (OEDC/Asian Development Bank, 2015; World Bank, 2015). In 2016, the government issued Ministry of Education and Culture Regulation No.75/2016, which aims to promote a more effective role of the school committee. In our study, only two of 47 respondents reported involvement in the school committee, and two others reported having been involved in the school committee in the past.

Parents’ level of education and awareness of their right to have a say in school management may affect their level of involvement in school decision making. Since children who go to low-cost private schools come from low-income families, it is possible that their parents are less educated and therefore have low awareness of these rights. Education and encouragement may be important for improving their participation.

Parent-teacher association can be a way for parents to be more involved in school decision-making.

Conclusion and Recommendations

In conclusion, private school sector continues to grow in Indonesia, and low-cost private schools have proven important to providing access to education for children from low-income families. This report examined Koja, a populous urban environment that is the second poorest district in North Jakarta. In Koja alone, we found 51 low-cost private schools providing all levels of education and catering to children from low-income families in the district. Over half of the low-cost private schools in Koja are Category 2, which means that they charge a monthly tuition fee of between IDR 100,001 and IDR 200,000. Most parents consider this good value for money given the quality of education that their children receive in these schools.

Low-cost private schools are generally comparable in quality to public schools. The schools studied in Koja meet the national education standards, as indicated by their accreditation grades, and emphasise extra-curricular achievements, as illustrated by awards in various inter-school competitions. These extra-curricular achievements contributed to schools’ competitiveness not only with nearby public schools but also with other private schools when attracting parents.


It is evident that the low-cost private school sector should be encouraged to grow. Many existing schools were founded by individuals out of their concern about the lack of educational opportunities for children in their area. Unfortunately, current government regulations hinder the establishment of new low-cost private schools. There are several laws and many regulations that govern the ways to manage education in Indonesia.

Minimum requirements for land and building area for schools hinder the growth of new and the expansion of established low-cost private schools because there is little land available in urban built-up areas like Koja. These requirements should be revisited with the aim of creating a more conducive environment for expanding the private school sector to serve low-income households. Overall, parents have a positive perception of low-cost private schools and send their children to these schools less because of their low cost than because of the closer proximity to their house and the perceived high quality of the schools.

Nevertheless, there is still a lack of parental involvement in school decision-making in Koja, as indicated by the paucity of parents involved in the school committee. There are parent-teacher forums, and these should be developed in order to empower parents to exercise their right to have a say in their children’s education. The government must go further than its regulation to promote the school committee by informing and encouraging parents to participate in school decision making processes.It is time for the public to recognize the importance of private education in serving low-income households. There is an urgent need to include private schools in the discourse on national education and in considerations for decision making.


ACDP Indonesia. (2014). Study on Teacher Absenteeism in Indonesia 2014. Education Sector Analytical and Capacity Development Partnership. (2015, October 15). 58.706 RTS Terdata di Jakut. Retrieved August 24, 2017, from

BPS Jakarta Utara. (2016). Statistik Daerah Kecamatan Koja 2016. Biro Pusat Statistik Jakarta Utara.

CNN Indonesia. (2017, September 2). Tarik Ulur Nasib Guru PNS yang Mengajar di Sekolah Swasta. Retrieved September 4, 2017, from (2017, October 7). Pemkot Tangerang Gratiskan SPP SMP Swasta. Retrieved September 4, 2017, from (2008, January 4). Sejarah Jakarta. Retrieved August 25, 2017, from (2014, March 14). Wajah Jakarta di Masa Orde Baru. Retrieved August 25, 2017, from

Kemdikbud. (2013). Overview of the Education Sector in Indonesia: Achievement and Challenges.


Ministry of Education and Culture. Kemdikbud. (2016). Data Sekolah Kota Jakarta Utara. Retrieved August 14, 2017, from

Kemdikbud. (2017). Data Referensi Pendidikan. Retrieved July 4, 2017, from


Kemenag. (2016). Statistik Pendataan. Retrieved August 14, 2017, from Development Bank. (2015).

Education in Indonesia: Rising to the Challenge. Paris: OECD Publishing.Rahman, M. A. (2016). Low-Cost Private Schools: A Case Study in Jakarta. Jakarta, Indonesia: Center for Indonesian Policy Studies. (2017, February 13). Mendikbud: Tak akan Ada Penarikan Guru PNS dari Sekolah Swasta. Retrieved September 4, 2017, from (2017, February 5). Juli, Guru PNS di Sekolah Swasta Ditarik. Retrieved September 4, 2017, from

Setiawan, Y. (2016, September 16). Kemdikbud Upayakan Wajib Belajar 12 Tahun Melalui PIP. Retrieved August 23, 2017, from (2010, December 9). Kebijakan Mematikan Sekolah Swasta. Retrieved August 31, 2017, from

Tilaar, H. A. . (2003). Kekuasaan dan Pendidikan. Magelang, Indonesia: IndonesiaTera.


Tooley, J. (2013). The Beautiful Tree: A Personal Journey into How the World’s Poorest People are Educating Themselves. Cato Institute.


World Bank. (2015). Assessing the Role of the School Operational Grant Program (BOS) in Improving Education Outcomes in Indonesia (No. AUS4133). World Bank.



Research Location and Rationale for Selection Koja is a district located in North Jakarta with an area of 12.25km2

(BPS Jakarta Utara, 2016). North Jakarta itself has an area of 146.66m2 and is made up of six districts: Cilincing, Kelapa Gading, Koja, Pademangan, Penjaringan and Tanjung Priok. There are six sub-districts in Koja: Koja, Lagoa, Rawabadak Utara, Rawabadak Selatan, Tugu Utara and Tugu Selatan. Tanjung Priok, which is a port district, borders Koja on the west, Cilincing on the east, Kelapa Gading in the south, and with its location on the northeast side of North Jakarta, the Java Sea in the north.


Having a population of 305,749 people, Koja is the 4th most populous district in North Jakarta. However,  current  data from the North Jakarta Statistics Bureau (2016) shows that Koja is a district with the highest  population density in North Jakarta with 24,950 people/km2,which means that most part of the district is a highly populated residential area.

Based on 2015 data (, 2015), there were 12,646 households recorded as the Target Households (Rumah Tangga Sasaran) of the ‘rice for the poor’ (Raskin) assistance program. This means that Koja is the 2nd poorest district in North Jakarta, after Cilincing, which has 18,029 Target Households.

According to the North Jakarta Statistics Bureau, 70% of Koja’s population is of the productive age group of 15 to 64 years old, while the number of school aged people (5 to 19 years old) makes up to 72,034 people (BPS Jakarta Utara, 2016).

All the factors above formed the basis of our selection of Koja as our research location.


This research utilizes a case study method, with low-cost private schools in Koja district, North Jakarta as the object of research. Semi-structured interviews, school surveys, and mapping of schools using GPS technology were used to collect our data. In addition to primary data gathered from the field, this study uses publicly available secondary data related to education from the Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Religious Affairs, and other relevant sources.

In his book The Beautiful Tree, James Tooley defines a private school as low-cost if it charged 10% or less of the monthly wage of parents (Tooley, 2013). We use a similar approach. To determine whether a private school is low-cost, we use a ratio of the monthly school fee to the approximate monthly income of the head of a  household. Using the current provincial minimum monthly wage in the DKI Jakarta Province, which is IDR 3.355.750, we define a private school as low-cost if it charged a monthly tuition fee of IDR 300,000 (USD 23), representing 10% of the minimum monthly wage, or less. Using this method, the maximum monthly tuition fee may differ if a similar study is done in other parts of Indonesia.

Data Gathering Period and Process

Data collection in the field was conducted during a two-week period between 8 and 19 May 2017. A team of 12 enumerators was deployed to gather data from the field. Three sub-districts were surveyed in the first week (Koja, Rawabadak Utara, and Rawabadak Selatan), and another three sub-districts in the second week (Tugu Utara, Tugu Selatan, and Lagoa). The team of enumerators was divided into three groups of four people, with each group surveying one sub-district per week.

During the course of two weeks, the enumerators ‘swept’ the district lane by lane to check the presence of low-cost private schools in the districts. Prior to field data collection, secondary data of private schools in Koja were obtained from the Ministry of Education and Culture website, but this data did not differentiate between low-cost private schools and regular private schools. The sweeping of the lanes, therefore, was done in order to check the actual situation against the available data on the Ministry’s website.

When a private school was located, the enumerators proceeded by inquiring with the school manager whether or not the school was a low-cost private school. Upon confirmation of the low-cost private school status, an interview was requested with the school principal or administrator, and with parents whose children go to the respective school.

Table 7

Number of Survey / Interview Subjects

The GPS mapping of the low-cost private schools was done on the same day as the interview using a mobile app named Latitude Longitude, which was available on the Android OS and iOS for free. Coordinates were taken of low-cost private schools and a number of public schools located in the same neighbourhood,  compiled, and later cross-checked for accuracy using Google Street View.

Research Objectives

There are a number of research objectives that guide this study, they are:

1. To identify the existence of low-cost private schools in Koja;

2. To examine the role of low-cost private schools in providing access to education for members of community;

3. To examine the challenges that hinder the growth of the sector, and to identify relevant policies that contribute to these challenges;

4. To record the schools’ positions and pin them in a low-cost private school map.



Education | August 2017

providing access to quality education through low-cost private schools. a study case in koja, north jakarta

This study analyzes the provision of access to quality education through low-cost private schools in Koja, North Jakarta, Indonesia.