News & Briefings

Bromo Volcano

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

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. 

Read the Full Article

Education in 2016: Big Changes, Bigger Gaps

posted Jan 26, 2017, 1:54 AM by Brook Ross

Abridged from The Jakarta Globe, January 02, 2017

With Indonesia's youth making up half of the country's population, everyone agrees that education must be prioritized. It was a shaky year for the sector, especially after July's cabinet reshuffle, which saw education minister sacked and policies changed.

Cabinet Reshuffle

On July 27, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announced the formation of a new cabinet. Muhadjir Effendi, rector of Muhammadiyah University in Malang, East Java, replaced Anies Baswedan on the ministerial post. According to some observers, Anies was not given enough time to "complete his vision," which included a popular school supervision program to create child-friendly schools through anti-violence and anti-bullying policies.

National Examinations

Muhadjir's predecessor was also very keen on introducing a moratorium for national examinations — a decisive factor for students' graduation, regardless of their overall school performance. Anies believed it was not fair when one test is supposed to determine a student's future and mental ability. Although Muhadjir agreed with him, the government has decided to keep the national examinations program for elementary and high schoolers, claiming it is crucial to assess the students' development. The move came after the release of the 2015 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a worldwide study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) of 15-year-old school pupils' performance in mathematics, science, and reading. The report, released every three years and covering 72 countries, saw Indonesia climbing slightly to 62 from 71 in 2013, which convinced the president to improve the current examination program instead of scrapping it altogether.

State of Education

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or Unesco, education standards in Indonesia were on the rise, with literacy rate up to 99.7 percent in 2015 from 98.7 percent a year earlier, giving hope for the future of education in the country. However, a great challenge was still there to achieve educational equity, as in remote areas access to education remained hardly available. State universities have seen an improvement, Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), and the University of Indonesia (UI) have been rated as two of the top institutions in the world, according to Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016-2017. UI had a rating in the range of 801 and above while ITB made its debut on the list, in the same range. This year, a major loss in the education sector came from the Aceh earthquake in December, in which many schools were destroyed. The quake was the worst natural disaster of the year. The ministry has announced that Rp 25.8 billion ($1.8 million) from the 2016 budget, and Rp 42.4 billion from the 2017 budget will be allocated to rebuild the schools.

Room to Grow

According to Education First's English Proficiency Index (EPI), which ranks countries by their skills in the language, Indonesia stands 32nd out of 72 countries surveyed, falling behind Malaysia, Vietnam and other countries in the region, although doing relatively better than Thailand and Cambodia, which ranked 56th and 69th respectively. While English proficiency must certainly be improved, the government is also going to issue new regulations to prevent school violence, as bullying, hazing and other types school violence are on the rise again. Infrastructure-wise, according to the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection, only 1,022 schools in the country are child friendly. 

Read the Full Article

Indonesian institutions lag behind regional counterparts

posted Jan 26, 2017, 1:11 AM by Brook Ross

Abridged from The Jakarta Post, June 16, 2016

A global higher education index has found Indonesia is lagging behind ASEAN neighbors in academic excellence as the country is represented by only two higher education institutions on the list of Asia’s 100 most reputable universities. Conducted by education rating institution Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) and released Tuesday, the QS University Rankings: Asia listed 11 Indonesian universities among the 350 best campuses in Asia this year. Unfortunately, none came close to competing with institutions from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, which all had institutions placed higher in the annual ranking. 

The prestigious National University of Singapore (NUS) topped the list, while the country’s Nanyang Technical University (NTU) took third place. The top 10 also featured four Hong Kong-based institutions and two universities each from China and South Korea. Malaysia, once known for sending its foremost scholars to Indonesia to study, now boasts two universities in the top 50 and four in the top 100: Universiti Malaysia ranked 27th and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) placed 49th, while Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) was close behind at 51st and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) took 55th spot. Two Thai universities fared better than Indonesian institutions, with Chulalongkorn University placing 45th and Mahidol University at 61st.

The University of Indonesia (UI), despite rising 12 spots from last year, sat in an underwhelming 67th place, followed by the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), which jumped from 122nd to 86th this year.

The QS University Rankings for Asia uses 11 indicators in its scoring system, with academic reputation and reputation among employers making up 50 percent of the score. This is followed by a faculty-to-student ratio worth 15 percent. Meanwhile, citations per paper and papers per faculty account for 10 percent each, followed by staff with PhDs at 5 percent and the proportions of international faculty, international studies, inbound exchange students and outbound exchange students with 2.5 percent each. While it is still debatable how accurately the QS rankings reflect academic standing on the global stage, some experts insist that Indonesian higher education institutions should remain unperturbed by the glossy numbers announced each year. 

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Tackling youth unemployment through skills upgrade

posted Jan 26, 2017, 12:56 AM by Brook Ross   [ updated Jan 26, 2017, 1:02 AM ]

Abridged from Jakarta Post, May 31, 2016

Indonesia’s unrelenting youth unemployment requires new strategies in job creation, especially in the aftermath of massive layoffs across the archipelago earlier this year and the upcoming demographic bonus period. Between 2025 and 2035, it is predicted that the number of people within the productive age bracket will be higher than the number of elderly people and children.

About a fifth of the country’s young men and a third of young women aged 15 to 24 do not have a job nor go to school, the World Bank announced in 2010. Similar concerns were voiced by Gustav Papanek and other writers in their 2014 book The Economic Choices Facing the New President. With current growth rates, only 800,000 jobs in the formal sector will be created annually for the two million young people estimated to join the workforce every year.

In the past year, the government has made a concerted effort to boost employment rates in the manufacturing sector, which houses those industries with the highest capacity to absorb labor. Some of these efforts include the issuance of a new minimum wage policy that allows the private sector to better approximate their future business costs, along with other selective policy interventions in the economic packages issued since last September. Nevertheless, little has been done to enhance workers’ competencies outside of the general school system.

Skills upgrade is an area that should be addressed in greater detail by the government given the heightened competition in attracting investment in certain professional fields.

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