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Indonesia: President Signs Decree on Character Education

(Oct. 19, 2017) On September 6, 2017, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo signed a presidential decree issuing a regulation on education designed to strengthen character. Widodo stated that the regulation had been prepared following input from a variety of interested parties across the country and that it would be followed up with the provision of technical guidance on its implementation. (Maryati & Ani Hasanah, President Joko Widodo Signs Decree on Character Strengthening Education, VOICE OF INDONESIA (Sept. 7, 2017); Moses Ompusunggu & Fedina S. Sundaryani, Jokowi Signs Amended Regulation on Character Education, JAKARTA POST (Sept. 7, 2017); Peraturan Presiden Republik Indonesia Nomor 87 Tahun 2017 Tentang Penguatan Pendidikan Karakter [Regulation of the President of the Republic of Indonesia No. 87, 2017, on Strengthening Character Education] (Character Education Regulation) (Sept. 6, 2017), Cabinet Secretariat website.)

Widodo added that he is pleased that Islamic clerics and community leaders supported the decree and attended the signing. He stated that it will provide a legal umbrella for the budget to finance character education in public schools, madrasahs (Islamic religious schools), and communities. (Maryati & Hasanah, supra; Moses Ompusunggu & Fedina S. Sundaryani, Jokowi Signs Amended Regulation on Character Education, JAKARTA POST (Sept. 7, 2017).) 

The Regulation

The regulation defines “strengthening character education” (penguatan pendidikan karakter in Indonesian, abbreviated PPK) as “the education movement under the responsibility of the educational unit to strengthen the learner’s character through harmonizing the heart, taste, thought, and body, with the involvement of and cooperation between educational units, family, and society … .”  (Character Education Regulation, art. 1.)  It goes on to list three purposes of the PPK program:

  • by 2045, to build learners into a generation of Indonesians who have experienced good character education, with the soul of “Pancasila,” the Indonesian political philosophy that stresses national unity, democracy, and social justice;
  • to develop a national education platform incorporating character education, with public engagement through formal and informal educational organizations and with respect for cultural diversity; and
  • to strengthen the competencies of educators, the community, and the family to implement PPK. (Id. art. 2.)

The program will be overseen by the Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Cultural Affairs and implemented by the ministries that manage education, culture, religion, and domestic affairs, as well as by local governments. (Id. art.  12.)

Implementation of Dual Report Card System

The Ministry of Education and Culture has directed schools to use a “double report card” system, beginning in 2018.  The cards would report on both academic achievement and personal progress.  Some teachers are already evaluating students on qualities related to the new character education, in addition to their school work.  Muhadjir Effendy, the Minister of Education and Culture, stated that the new cards “force teachers to scout and look out for the talents of each child.”  (Schools Begin to Adopt ‘Dual Report Card’ System, JAKARTA POST (Oct. 7, 2017).)