Education International
Education International

Indonesia: Union dialogue with government around quality teachers and education

published 23 April 2015 updated 11 May 2015

Education unionists in Indonesia have made progress in their discussions with the country’s top public authorities over the quality of teaching.

On 6 April, the National Board of the Persatuan Guru Republik Indonesia(PGRI), affiliated to Education International, met with the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo. This followed an earlier meeting, on 19 March, with the Indonesian Vice-President, Muhammad Jusuf Kalla.

“The authorities’ response was good, and several proposals are certainly enforceable and can be implemented,” said PGRI President M. Sulistiyo.

The trade union’s proposals underline the fact that “teachers are an ultimate part of the nation”, even “the agents of change” of it.

Lack of teachers

One of the PGRI’s concerns is the lack of teachers. About 400,000 teachers are needed all over Indonesia, just for the elementary level, the union noted. In addition, 300,000 teachers have retired, according to national Education Ministry data up to 2008, and this number does not include those who have resigned or died.

Principal review

The important role of principal also needs review, according to the PGRI. It is calling for an in-depth study to discuss the role of the principal as the teacher with additional duties. A good selection system and appropriate professional development are needed to create a great principal.

Quality of teachers

The PGRI has acted to maintain and enhance teachers’ professional honour and dignity by establishing a code of conduct.

“The low quality of teachers is not caused by the decentralisation and the centralised management of the education system, but by the bureaucratic system prevailing in education,” Sulistiyo said. So far, no serious effort has been made nor a system put in place in relation to teachers’ professional quality, a move that would improve the quality of education, he said.

All teachers, working in public or private schools, in kindergartens, elementary, secondary or high schools, in a city or a village, “should be treated equally, particularly with regard to employment, welfare, and professional development”, he said.

Way ahead

The PGRI has identified key issues to improve teacher quality in Indonesia:

  • Shifting the paradigm, from a teacher-centred to a student-centred education system, and from a teaching content model to a teaching concept model
  • Developing skills pertaining to teaching 21st Century skills
  • Integrating a culture of positive attitude in classroom learning
  • Aligning written curriculum, taught curriculum and assessed curriculum
  • Integrating technology in classroom learning


The PGRI also recommends that teachers be trained on issues around their roles and responsibilities or other topics related to learning. This would ensure that the role of school principals is not only to cover administrative areas, but also to empower teachers and develop their skills, as well as to supervise their roles and responsibilities. It would also offer opportunities for teachers and school leaders to learn from other schools’ best practices. And it would help to build a positive and constructive culture in schools, in accordance with the idea of a school being a place of learning.