PRIORITAS—Prioritizing Reform, Innovation and Opportunities for Reaching Indonesia’s Teachers, Administrators and Students

Partnering with government bodies to improve the Indonesian educational system

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

Historically, basic education in Indonesia has focused on rote memorization of facts, and poor management at the district level has led to an uneven supply of appropriately trained teachers. But September 2017 marked a watershed for the Indonesian educational system: the completion of PRIORITAS (Prioritizing Reform, Innovation and Opportunities for Reaching Indonesia’s Teachers, Administrators and Students), a five-year project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by RTI. The ultimate aim of PRIORITAS was to improve the training of teachers and school personnel in Indonesia, the management of school resources, and the overall educational experience of students, particularly in reading, math, and science.  

Creating a Path to Success for Indonesian Schools

PRIORITAS entailed close coordination with three Indonesian ministries: Education and Culture; Religious Affairs; and Research, Technology and Higher Education. Our contractors and employees worked with 90 school districts across seven provinces, 17 different teacher-training institutes (TTIs), and two nongovernmental organizations. Here are some of the benchmarks we achieved:

  • More than 6,000 school supervisors, principals, and committee and community members, and over 12,500 primary and middle-school teachers, were trained in participative and accountable school management and active and contextual teaching and learning, respectively.
  • A partnership with Yayasan Literasi Anak Indonesia (the Indonesian Children’s Literacy Foundation) produced leveled reading books for use in early-grade classrooms across Indonesia. We distributed more than 12,000 sets of these books to non-partner primary schools in project partner districts, and another 1,000 sets to project partner schools.
  • The percentage of teachers in partner schools demonstrating good practices in teaching and assessment rose from 20 percent at the beginning of the project to 80 percent at the end. The percentage of students demonstrating positive learning behaviors, according to PRIORITAS metrics, rose similarly, from 20 percent to 87 percent.
  • More than 90 percent of partner schools implemented programs to develop a reading culture, including upgraded libraries, reading corners, and increased purchases of reading materials. Moreover, the percentage of schools in which communities and parents were active in developing a reading culture rose from less than 15 percent to 60–75 percent, depending on cohort.
  • More than 600 small schools were “regrouped,” producing 305 merged schools with increased efficiencies. More than 100 primary schools introduced multi-grade teaching, 7,000 principals and teachers were transferred to areas of greatest need, and 6,000 temporary teachers were appointed as permanent civil servants.
  • A gender unit focused on ensuring that teaching materials address gender equality, that Indonesian teachers pay attention to all students irrespective of gender, and that male and female students have equal opportunities to participate in classroom and extracurricular activities.
  • Over the course of the PRIORITAS project, more than 15,000 news stories were published in more than 2,000 newspapers and other media, an average of 10 stories a day during the final three years. In addition, over 400 videos were produced to illustrate PRIORITAS processes and goals.

Maintaining a Track Record of Success in Indonesian Education

Before our work on PRIORITAS, we supported two other USAID education programs. From 2003 to 2007, Managing Basic Education (MBE) supported school and teacher improvement in 20 districts in two Indonesian provinces. And from 2005 to 2011, Decentralized Basic Education (DBE1 and DBE2) had us working with more than50 districts in seven provinces to improve management and governance of education, particularly at the district and school levels, and to improve the quality of teaching and learning in basic education.

With the completion of the PRIORITAS project, we are confident that the Indonesian educational system is in better shape than ever before—and together with USAID, we have established a model that can easily be applied to other countries.