Since its independence in 1945, education has always figured prominently in Indonesia's national developmental policy. Its importance is highlighted through Article 31 of the Amended Indonesia Constitution, which identifies education as one of the key rights of its citizens. Further, the education sector is given a priority focus in Indonesia's budget, receiving an allocation of a whopping 20% to the total budget outlay for 2008-2009.
Despite these efforts, Indonesia's education sector faces numerous challenges in teaching over 50 million students in 300,000 schools, employing about 3 million teachers spread across 17.5 thousand islands.
Three major issues pose challenges to Indonesia's education sector. These are: i) Increasing equity and expanding access to education; ii) Enhancing quality improvement, relevance, and competitiveness, and iii) Strengthening governance, accountability, and public image.
One of the policy instruments in Indonesia is the integration of ICT into education ranging from the elementary school level to the higher education. This article discusses Indonesian government's responses to the above challenges by using ICT and the success in achieving this.
The national policy for integrating information and communication technology (ICT) into education by the Ministry of National Education of Indonesia is laid down in the Five Year Development Plan, 2005-2009.
Basic activities related to the policy of integrating ICT into education consist of development of systems, methods and learning materials through the use of ICT. This is expected to develop a higher education information network, infrastructure and human resource to support its implementation, both for education management and the learning process. By using ICT for educating students in higher education institutions equity of quality can be assured.
Implementation of the policy and strategic development in integrating ICT in higher education in Indonesia May be grouped into three major directions, namely:
Quality of learning through increased access to new resources and improved teaching approaches,
Educational management and ICT led management information systems, and
Quality of ICT graduates and need for ICT specialists.
The goals and objectives of utilising ICT for education programme in higher education in Indonesia are to firstly provide all higher education institutions and its faculty, and students, with opportunities to learn the use of ICT. The goal is to employ ICT as an enabling tool to access information and gain knowledge through self-paced learning, or through interactions with lecturers/professors and fellow students.
Secondly, it must electronically link institutions of higher learnings and libraries to provide students and teachers an environment in which distant resources can be made available remotely at finger tips.
Finally, it must make maximum use of ICT in learning, including open and distance learning, to meet the needs and aspirations of all students in higher educations or in continuing education and skill enhancement without any constraints with regard to age, sex, profession, social status, race, distance, or geographical location.
ICT Programmes in Higher Education
Several ICT programmes have been initiated in Indonesia's higher education. These are: are Global Development Learning Network (GDLN), Indonesian Higher Education Network (Inherent), Jardiknas (National Education Network), Indonesia-Managing Higher Education for Relevance and Efficiency (I-MHERE), e-Education, etc.
To optimise the use of ICT in higher education, GDLN is partnering with the Indonesian Higher Education Network (Inherent) programme. This joint partnership was recently launched by the Minister of National Education Republic of Indonesia on July 9, 2008. This network enables people in Indonesia