News & Briefings

Bromo Volcano

Short selection of news reports and high level market briefings of relevance to international education engagement with Indonesia.

OUR PROFILE: Meeting The Needs Of The Future Labour Market With Indonesia Education Partnerships, Indonesia Expat, 28 August 2017

posted Sep 26, 2017, 2:19 AM by Brook Ross

Not only expat directors of companies in Indonesia know that finding qualified human capacity is challenging – especially for skilled positions and middle management jobs – but the Indonesian government and President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo publicly recognize that for Indonesia to continue to grow economically, they need to bring international quality skills and professional development to their people.

The lack of qualified human capacity in skilled and management positions, in addition to a lack of transportation infrastructure and inconsistent rule of law, is significantly holding back this nation from reaching its current economic potential. The Labour Division of the Indonesian Employers Association (APINDO) stated last December that the creation of 3 million new jobs per year is necessary for Indonesia to maintain its current unemployment rate, but efforts to build skills of the labour force are facing challenges and Indonesia has fallen a million jobs short of this target.  

To start to fill in this widening gap, especially in the face of the new ASEAN Economic Community environment enabling skilled workers from other nations to compete for Indonesia’s best jobs, President Jokowi has put high pressure this year on multiple ministries to collaborate in developing skills appropriate for Indonesia’s current job demands and begin to address gaps in the newly growing industries.

The Ministries of Manpower, Industries, Education and Culture, and Research, Technology & Higher Education, as well as the national professional certification bureau and other agencies have been struggling to work together to put forward plans to address the chasm between what is taught in vocational schools and universities and what is needed to fuel the industries and economic growth.  

Expat Brook Williams Ross has stepped into this need together with the team he has created in Indonesia Education Partnerships, a not-for-profit consultancy working to help develop Indonesia’s economy through education.  No stranger to developing functioning and effective partnerships under pressure and in challenging environments, Ross first worked in developing strategic partnerships for human capacity development under the American Red Cross following the 2004 Aceh tsunami. The training needs in Aceh at that time were daunting; the majority of skilled workers in many villages and towns were killed, including nurses, doctors, teachers, administrators and market managers among others.  

After three years in Aceh, Ross pivoted to the national scale by consulting for the US Embassy Jakarta to restart US-Indonesia higher education partnerships immediately following President Barack Obama’s 2008 election. Since then, Ross has continued to utilize his network to assist governments across the archipelago with their specialized human resource development needs.  During this period, he says, “I’ve hosted about 145 different international universities, colleges and polytechnics in Indonesia to engage on development strategy with national ministries and provincial governments.”  

While he mainly engages with institutions from the English speaking world, primarily American, New Zealand and UK institutions, Indonesia Education Partnerships has worked with institutions from many nations.  “Our purpose is to meet the capacity development needs of the Indonesian government, boost their success in helping their people,” says Ross, “so we look for any institution that has the right quality of training and expertise needed, wants to be a strong partner delivering programs here in Indonesia, and can lower their costs to work with the budget available, which often can mean cost sharing or pro bono depending on the project.”  

Ross and his team also help governments and university partners identify funding sources or create scholarship programs to be able to implement the programs and reach development goals. Ross and Indonesia Education Partnerships have worked in almost every province of Indonesia, as well as with a dozen of the primary ministries in Jakarta.  

“Perhaps Papua is the most challenging and the most rewarding, as their needs are the greatest and they have the furthest to go,” says Ross. “We are currently working with the Papua government and governor’s office in English training so their people can access education internationally. This year for the first time have a group of Papuan students going for Masters in critical skill areas going to university in the UK, US, and New Zealand. I expect them to join the government and be part of the solution when they return, using what they learned to help further develop the Papuan people.”

Most of their work is with the Indonesian central government, but Ross has a sweet spot for where he started.  “I still love working with Aceh, and we have three programs there with partners to develop capacity of vocational teachers, support marine spatial planning of the government, and develop aviation maintenance skills, all with specialized international partner universities who also love working on the ground here with the Acehnese people.”

Their focus is how they can bring the skills trainings the Indonesian government needs especially when there are certain trainings that aren’t locally available or accessible from elsewhere in Indonesia. “South Sumatra Governor Alex Nurdin said it best to me: Of my five key skill development needs, my local university can take care of three – so I need you to bring me help for the other two.”  

Ross and Indonesian Education Partnerships are up for the challenge. But it’s not all cut and dry, as nothing ever really is in Indonesia, and rubber time still exists the further you go in the archipelago. Ross quips, “you burn a lot of time in developing these relationships – years, really! That’s what it takes while you keep showing up and delivering on the goods. Eventually the trust is built with the government to start the programs, but hopefully not after the government officials reshuffle and you need to start over!”

Read full article at 

Investing in Teachers Crucial to Improve Education in Indonesia: World Bank, Jakarta Globe, September 15, 2017

posted Sep 23, 2017, 2:06 AM by Brook Ross

The World Bank's senior director of education, Jaime Saavedra, said on Thursday (14/09) that Indonesia needs to reform and invest in the teaching profession for classroom learning to be more effective and the quality of education in the country to improve.   "Teachers are still the essential element to achieve effective learning. The essential focus is on improving the quality of the interaction between teachers and students," Saavedra told the Jakarta Globe in an exclusive interview during his visit to  Jakarta this week. 

Indonesia has achieved significant progress in providing access to basic education, yet it still has not been successful in effective learning and struggles to improve the classroom performance of students. "Indonesia cannot afford to have schoolchildren not acquire the foundational skills that they need in order to succeed in life and help the country grow and prosper," Saavedra said. 

Saavedra highlighted the importance of "reforming teachers' careers" for the value of professional teaching to be recognized, providing educators with knowledge of what and how to teach and linking their careers to their performance, which in turn will focus their attention on students' learning. "Reforming teachers' careers is not an easy task. However, teachers have a tremendous responsibility. They have in their hands the future of Indonesian children and youth, and through that, the future of the nation," he said. 

According to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a worldwide study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that provides education rankings, Indonesian students still perform below average in the three subject areas chosen as indicators: science, mathematics and reading. PISA 2015, which surveyed students from 72 countries, has Singapore as the top performer in all categories, whereas Indonesia ranks 64th in science, 65th in mathematics, and 66th in reading. 

Read the full article at

Indonesia's Rank in WEF's Global Human Capital Index Improves, Jakarta Globe, September 13, 2017

posted Sep 23, 2017, 2:02 AM by Brook Ross

Indonesia's rank in the World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Human Capital Index has improved on the back of progress in education, according to a report published on Wednesday (13/09).  Indonesia now ranks 65th out of 130 countries assessed. In 2016 it was 72nd.  In the region, Indonesia is still behind Singapore (11), Malaysia (33) and Vietnam (64). Vietnam ranks four points up from 2016.
"Vietnam and Indonesia have made remarkable progress in educational attainment among their younger generations and have a correspondingly solid outlook for building their future human capital potential," the report said.
The Global Human Capital Index ranks countries based on how well they develop their human capital by: capacity, which is greatly determined by formal education;  deployment, or how skills are applied at work; development, or the state of formal education for the next generation of workers and efforts to improve the current workforce; and know-how, which is the depth of specialized skills in five age groups — up to 14 years, 15-24 years, 25-54 years, 55-64 years, 65 years and more.
According to the report, the world has 62 percent of its human capital developed, wasting 38 percent of its talents.
"We are facing a global talent crisis," World Economic Forum founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab said in a statement, referring to the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is marked by extensive use of information technology for automated production, and forces employers to look for talents who are adaptable and can develop new skills.  "We need a new mindset and a true revolution to adapt our educational systems to the education needed for the future work force," he said.
World Economic Forum head for education, gender and work Saadia Zahid said countries should tailor their own strategies for developing human capital in accordance with their demographic structures.  "However, every country risks creating lost generations if they fail to adopt a more holistic approach to nurturing talents, which takes into account a proactive approach to managing the transition from education to employment and to ongoing learning and skills acquisition," Zahidi said.
Full article at

URI professor awarded $3 million USAID grant to study coral reef fisheries in Indonesia, URI Today, April 17, 2017

posted Jun 9, 2017, 1:17 AM by Brook Ross

Food security is a serious concern in Indonesia, where delicate coral reef ecosystems provide fish and livelihood for over three million fishermen. But their catch is declining with many fisheries being overexploited and management of the fishery needs improvement.

That’s where the University of Rhode Island’s Austin Humphries comes in. The assistant professor of fisheries is leading a team that has been awarded a $3 million grant by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The research will identify fishery management strategies which maintain and protect the ecosystem while also ensuring that fish are available for consumption. While conducting this research, a primary objective is to train Indonesian scientists, and in particular women, to conduct research on coral reef fisheries.

“A large proportion of Indonesian communities are dependent on coral reefs for food,” said Humphries. “As these fisheries are feeling the heat from global stressors like coral bleaching, declines in fish catch are a major issue for subsistence and food security. Creating holistic evaluations of new and existing fishery management schemes is becoming more and more important to ensure sustainability over the long-term.”

According to Humphries, Indonesia has the most biodiverse coral reefs in the world, and half of the world’s six million small-scale coral reef fishermen are in Indonesia. The country’s government is trying to implement an ecosystem-based fishery management system that will examine the impact of fisheries in the context of a healthy ecosystem while also considering the social context in which the fisheries operate.

“Indonesia is one of the first countries in the world that’s taking steps towards formalizing a holistic management plan for coral reef fisheries that considers multiple components of the ecosystem,” he said. “This project will provide the government with vital information for that initiative.”

The four-year grant will enable Humphries to travel to Indonesia three times per year for month-long stays to train and join local scientists in counting corals and fish, taking water samples, and conducting genetic analyses to gain a better understanding of the entire coral reef food web. They’ll also monitor the number and species of fish captured by the local fishermen.

The work will be conducted in two regions of the country, one that is heavily fished and where many different types of fishing gears are used under relatively lax management regimes, and the other a remote area where fishing pressure is light and management follows traditional doctrines.

“In the end, we’ll have ecosystem and fishery models that we hope to be able to use and forecast what would happen if different management strategies were implemented. How would the ecosystem respond and how would the fishermen and their catch respond?” Humphries explained.

“If management determines that certain gear types should be banned because they are considered unsustainable, we’ll be able to model the impact of that on the coral, on the fish, on the entire food web, and on the people and their catch,” he added. “With that tool, managers can test some alternative scenarios and evaluate tradeoffs that consider the needs of both people and nature. That’s the holy grail that we want to get to.”

In addition to Humphries, the project will also include URI Associate Professor Chris Lane, who will lead the genetics part of the project, graduate student Paul Carvalho, and a postdoctoral researcher. Collaborators from Mississippi State University will lead a similarly themed project on land with livestock that is designed to optimize reproduction and thus improve land-based food security.

Training of the local Indonesian scientists, both graduate students and faculty, will be a primary and key element of the project. The funding aims to build capacity so Indonesian scientists will be better able to conduct scientifically rigorous research and continue the work long after the project funding.

“At the end of the day, they’re going to be the ones doing this work in the future,” Humphries said. “The sustainability of the coral reef resource is in their hands. We’re just trying to help get the ball rolling in that direction with data-driven science.”

Full Article at

Indonesia's Potential to Become The World's Seventh Largest Economy,, 14 April 2017

posted Jun 8, 2017, 4:38 AM by Brook Ross

Indonesia would need 113 million skilled workers in 2030 to develop its potential to become the world's seventh largest economy, Manpower Minister M Hanif Dhakiri said.  "It means that Indonesia needs to supply 3.7 million skilled workers per year," the minister stated at the ministry's apprenticeship program in Karawang, West Java, on Thursday. A research of McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) in 2016 showed that Indonesia would need 113 million skilled workers for developing the potential to become the world's seventh largest economy in 2030.
Hanif noted that in addition to the lack of skilled workers, majority of Indonesian work forces are high school graduates and many of them work in fields that did not match their educational background. Therefore, the government has involved private sectors to increase the number of skilled workers, through the national integrated apprenticeship program in industries, he added.
"Participants of the program would get the benefit of increasing their working experience, developing working mental behavior, and increasing competence in accordance with market demand. This would become an important asset for someone to get a job or start working independently," he added.
The national apprenticeship, held in cooperation with the Employers' Association of Indonesia (Apindo) and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), involving 2,648 companies, is part of the government's efforts to improve its human resource quality. During the apprenticeship program, industries would facilitate participants with work accident insurance, life insurance, and allowance. The number of apprentice is expected to reach 163 thousand in 2017, higher than the total apprentice during 2009 to Nov 2016, which reached 169,137 participants only.

Indonesia, USAID launch $20 million research program,, 21 March 2017

posted Jun 8, 2017, 4:32 AM by Brook Ross

Indonesia and the United States on Tuesday launched a US$20 million research program called USAIDs Sustainable Higher Education Research Alliances Program (USAID SHERA) for five Indonesian institutes of higher learning. "This program is very important, because it is aimed at increasing the capacity of the institutes of higher learning to produce international-class researches," Indonesian Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education Mohamad Nasir stated while launching the program along with US deputy ambassador to Indonesia Brian McFeeters.

The cooperation-based researches, which will be conducted through the Center for Collaborative Research (CCR) and initiated by USAID SHERA, will serve as a forum for academics, researchers, regional governments, private institutions, and non-governmental organizations in Indonesia and the United States.

The five institutes of higher learning deserved the program after they bested some 70 rivals across Indonesia. The five institutes of higher learning are University of Indonesia (UI), Gadjah Mada University (UGM), Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB), Bandung Institute of Technology (IPB), and Padjadjaran University (Unpad).

Eight US institutes of higher learning will become partners in conducting researches. They are University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colarado Denver, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Rhode Island, University of Mississippi, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, University of Florida, and University of Savannah.

The topics of researches include urban planning and development for UI; technological innovations for ITB; public health and infectious diseases for Unpad; and the environment, energy, and maritime affairs for UGM.

The creation of CCR will be very helpful to develop, nurture, and maintain researches in the fields of science, technology, and innovation. The partnership between the US and Indonesian institutes of higher learning will increase the capability of researchers and the supporting capacity of the environment studied in Indonesia, McFeeters noted.

USAID's HELM Project Raises Higher Education Standards in Indonesia, Jakarta Globe, 21 March 2017

posted Jun 8, 2017, 4:01 AM by Brook Ross

USAID, or the United States Agency for International Development, has allocated nearly $19 million in the past five years to improve the performance of 50 Indonesian universities and higher education institutions. The funding is part of the agency's five-year project in Indonesia called HELM, or Higher Education Leadership and Management. 

The project was launched in 2011 with a goal to enhance university leadership, administration, financial management, quality assurance and research. Out of 50 educational institutions that have received funding from HELM, 40 have already obtained international accreditation. The Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education's director general for institutional development, Patdono Suwignjo, said the program has improved access to academic resources, network and development for Indonesian universities." Access to these resources is key in improving the quality of higher education in Indonesia," Patdono said during an event in Jakarta on Wednesday (21/09) to celebrate the project's achievements. 

The United States Chargé d'Affaires Brian McFeeters at the same event said the changing economic landscape in Indonesia requires a diverse and educated workforce that can adapt to a knowledge-based economy. "The US is proud to partner with the Indonesian government in various initiatives ranging from innovative research, expanding access to high quality basic and vocational education, to strengthening the higher education system," he said. 

From 2011 to 2016, the HELM project had helped Indonesian universities improve their accreditation ratings, management systems and bridging programs as well as providing students with academic and vocational training." We hope our investment over the past five years has allowed these higher education institutions to provide their students with a world-class education," USAID mission director Erin McKee said.

Jokowi wants fairer distribution of LPDP scholarships

posted Feb 9, 2017, 6:58 PM by Brook Ross   [ updated Feb 9, 2017, 6:59 PM ]

Posted in full from The Jakarta Post, February 8, 2017

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has called on the Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP) to provide equal scholarship opportunities to study masters and doctoral degrees abroad and in Indonesia for all Indonesians especially for those living in least-developed provinces. Jokowi said Indonesia would enjoy a demographic bonus for the next 13 years in which the country would see a major part of the population in the productive age bracket.

The President said providing equal opportunities for all would make them ready to become professional members of the workforce. “Investment in human resources should also be in line with development priorities. The LPDP program should focus on creating qualified human resources in priority sectors such as maritime and energy as well as manufacturing and the creative economy,” the President said in his opening speech during a Cabinet meeting on the education fund management.

The LPDP has given scholarships to a total of 16,295 students of masters and doctoral degrees, 8,406 of whom studied in universities in Indonesia while 7,889 took programs abroad.  Jokowi also highlighted the low proportion of engineers in Indonesia with only 2,672 for every 1 million people.  “The figure is lower than Malaysia’s 3,333, Vietnam’s 9,037 and South Korea’s 25,309,” he said.

Indonesian govt`s scholarships for students is investment in human resources: Minister Sri Mulyani

posted Feb 1, 2017, 7:14 PM by Brook Ross   [ updated Feb 1, 2017, 7:16 PM ]

Posted in full from, 31 January 2017

The minister said the government has given an opportunity to undergraduate students to pursue higher education by granting scholarships.  "We are investing in the Indonesian youth who have ideas, dreams, idealism, and ambition to make a better Indonesia," Indrawati emphasized. However, the minister called on the awardees to seize the opportunity, as the money they received for the scholarship was sourced from the taxes collected by the government.  "It came from people who pay taxes, and it is not easy for us to collect them," she affirmed.

The minister has called on the LPDP management to improve its efficiency, so that the funds they spend could offer maximum impact for improving the quality of living of Indonesians.  The LPDP is an Agency for General Services under the Finance Ministry, which manages an education fund scheme to financially support Indonesian students to receive higher education.

Currently, the LPDP has managed Rp22.5 trillion worth of funds and has granted scholarships to 16,293 students to study both in Indonesia and overseas.  Of the total scholarships, 10,406 students are still continuing their studies, mostly for masters and doctorate degrees.  As many as 1,999 awardees studied in the engineering field; 1,711 in science; 1,354 awardees in education; 1,070 in medical and health science; 935 awardees in social science; 675 in economy; 481 in the law field; and 480 awardees in arts, culture, and language.  

The number of awardees who have studied in Indonesia reached 5,575 students; 1,679 in England; 798 in the Netherlands; 684 in Australia; 338 in the US; 329 in Japan; 123 in Germany; 117 in Russia; 89 in Sweden; and 81 awardees in France. 

Education Ministry Set to Improve Vocational Training in 2017

posted Jan 26, 2017, 1:59 AM by Brook Ross

Abridged from The Jakarta Globe, January 13, 2017

The Ministry of Education and Culture has set the improvement of vocational training as one of its top priorities for 2017. This priority was highlighted further after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo ordered that the vocational training curriculum should be reformed.

One of the improvements is the transfer of management to the provincial level, instead of district level. According to Ananto Kusuma Seta, senior advisor for innovation and competitiveness at the ministry, this would help get rid of the micro-perspective district heads have about their graduates. "With this blinkered point of view, the district heads are only concerned with the industries in their district, which is why graduates are unemployed – who knows? The neighboring district might just need that graduate for their industry," Ananto said. Ananto believes this would make it easy for governors to link and match graduates with province-owned enterprises, and provide them with apprenticeship opportunities.

Another aspect the ministry will focus on is strengthening of human resources in vocational institutions, as teachers in these schools have been found to lack adequate skills. Ananto revealed that only 22.3 percent of vocational school teachers have the correct qualifications, while the remainder are orientated more towards traditional subjects, such as mathematics and biology. "Since last year, we have initiated a one-year program to train teachers to become multi-skilled compared to being focused on one module only," Ananto said.

The ministry is also opening the program to industry experts to hone their skills and gain certificates, or skills passports, so that they can become teachers in their respective fields. 

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