Serving as a background to the present overall five-part report, this first part consists of four sections. The first section describes Indonesia’s background in terms of its geography and demography. The second section presents a context of Indonesia’s national development. The third section elaborates on a more specific context for education development, and the fourth section outlines sources of data and how data in this report have been collected.
A. Country Background: Geography and Demography
Indonesia’s population is currently around 219 million people (Statistical Yearbook of Indonesia 2005/20006) and it consists of more than 300 ethnically distinct groups who speak about 583 local languages and dialects and embrace six major religions (Islam, Protestant, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism). Consisting of 33 provinces, Indonesia as a nation-state derives its identity from both homogeneity and heterogeneity on various terms: economic condition, geography, religions, (sub)cultures and ethnic groups. With this diversity, Indonesia is clearly a large and complex nation with an extremely complex education system. This complexity—which stems from an interplay among various levels of diversities—makes a considerable amount of demands on the government in its attempts to ensure equitable provision of quality education in all levels and for all citizens in all regions in the country.
Realizing this complex interplay between citizens in different localities and the kinds of resources available at their respective disposal, any education plans made in the system should also respond to unique geographical conditions of the regions and distribution of the population inhabiting the areas. Consider this as an example: 60% of the population is concentrated in Java and Bali islands, yet these islands constitute only 7% of Indonesia’s land area. In contrast, the Mollucas and Papua represent 21% of the population and 69% of land area (Statistical Yearbook of Indonesia 2005/20006). This pattern of distribution of population poses particular challenges to the system in ensuring cost effective and efficient provision of high quality education.
The magnitude of Indonesia’s geography and its unique population distribution also manifests in political and public administration systems. There are currently 33 provinces and over 440 districts, each with their own directly-elected local government and administration officials, and these numbers might grow in the future. Population density across these provinces varies widely from around 1,000 people per square kilometre in Java to 7 people per km2 in Papua. The average population density is around 116 per square kilometre (Statistical Yearbook of Indonesia 2005/20006). These variations of population density have significant impact on the ways in which education services are delivered and the financial consequences which come with these delivery methods.