Education in Indonesia Guide: Tiering & Top International Schools

4 min read|Last Updated: March 7, 2023|

Home to over 264 million locals, Indonesia is the fourth most populated country in the world. The education landscape in Indonesia has changed through the years from the Dutch colonial period with very traditional schools to today’s diverse range of institutions available.

The change of education standards and institutions is linked to the improved quality of life in the country. Till date, there are approximately 170,000 Primary schools, over 66,000 secondary schools and 4378 higher educational institutions in Indonesia.

For foreign expats who have incorporated a company in Indonesia, and wants to bring their children in to study, or learners looking for educational opportunities in the country, you will need a valid visa.

There are generally three tiers of education in Indonesia – primary, secondary, and tertiary education. This is similar to many other countries as well.

Primary Education in Indonesia

Education in Indonesia revolves around the ministry of national education which made it compulsory. The duration for primary school is 6 years and for junior high school is 3 years.

The primary phase follows on after optional pre-school playgroups that may commence in a child’s third year. Most elementary schools are government controlled. Some offer accelerated programs that compress the phase to 5 years following closely to the Islamic education system.

A child must be enrolled into a primary school by April in the hopes of being admitted in July. To complete primary education and enter secondary education, students in the sixth grade have to complete two final examinations:

  • School final examination
  • National examination

Secondary Education in Indonesia

For students that graduated from their primary schools, they begin their new stage in life in Sekolah Menahga Pertama (SMP), or also known as junior high school.

Items to be presented during the enrolment include:

  • Application form

  • Birth certificate

  • Family card

  • Exit certificate from primary school

  • End-of-term reports from the past year for transferring students from one SMP to another

  • 2 passport-sized photos

Upon completion of 3 years in a SMP, students get to choose their path, either by obtaining a high school for vocational education known as Sekolah Menahga Kejuruan (SMK) or to continue their education at a senior high school, Sekolah Menahga Atas (SMA) where in the third year, students will get to choose 3 specialisations, which are:

  • IPA (Science)
  • IPS (Social and economic studies)

  • Bahasa (Language and literature)

Tertiary Education in Indonesia

There are a total of 5 types of tertiary education in Indonesia namely:

  • Polytechnics

  • Academics

  • Institutes

  • Universities

  • Advanced tertiary schools (Sekolah Tinggi)

Some schools among the ones stated above are government funded while some are religiously affiliated while some are privately funded.

The Indonesian government has been reforming the country’s higher education system in recent years in order to assist it overcome some of its issues. Low-income families face barriers such as limited access, a lack of room in public institutions, and an overload of government bureaucracy.

What are the Top International Schools in Indonesia

If you’re an expatriate living in Indonesia with your family, or thinking to move to Indonesia, you may also consider enrolling your children into international schools. Here are some of the best international schools in Indonesia that you can consider!

School Name About the School
ACG School Jakarta Curriculum: International Baccalaureate Organization for Primary Years K to Y6; Cambridge Curriculum for Y7 to Y12
Australian Independent School Curriculum: Australian Curriculum for Primary (Preschool to Year 10) and IB
Bali Island School Curriculum: International Baccalaureate Programme from Preschool to Grade 12
Lycee Francais de Jakarta Curriculum: French, International Baccalaureate with Optional European English
Ichthus School Curriculum: Cambridge IGCSE for Grades 9-10 and International A Levels for Grades 11-12

Expats With Children Living in Indonesia

For expats who brought their children with them for work in Indonesia or are looking to bring their family in, a dependent pass is required.

Here are some of the requirements to apply for a dependant’s visa in Indonesia:

  • A valid Passport
  • A completed Indonesia visa interview
  • A copy of the primary visa holder’s passport
  • Photographs of the primary visa holder and applicant together
  • A passport-sized photograph of the applicant
  • The confirmation page on the online DS-160 form


Come down to our office or get in touch virtually to discuss on how you can live, work, and/or study in Indonesia.


Is English taught in Indonesia?2023-03-03T15:24:15+08:00

Indonesia is the only country in Southeast Asia that has not made English a compulsory subject at elementary level.

Where is Indonesia ranked in education?2023-03-03T15:23:54+08:00

Indonesia’s average ranking across the three subjects is 65th out of 69 countries. Inequality and school performance remain an issue in Indonesia. The percentage of low performers in science among disadvantaged students is among the highest globally.

How have Indonesia’s educational standards improved over the years?2023-03-03T15:23:13+08:00

Indonesia has taken many different but effective approaches to improve the educational standards of the country, especially since the country became a democracy in 1998. In 2002, Indonesia made it a constitutional requirement that governments at all levels must allocate at least 20% of their budgets to the financing of education. This was an obvious improvement from previous years; in 1995, spending on education totaled less than 1% of Indonesia’s GDP. This improvement is reflected in the country’s literacy rates of 95.4% among the general population and 99% among its youth. In general, education and culture surrounding education in Indonesia is better now than it has ever been.

What are the main destinations of Indonesian students who leave the country to further their studies?2023-03-03T15:22:15+08:00

The primary destinations of Indonesian students who leave the country for tertiary education are Australia and the United States. According to the latest statistics, approximately 20,000 Indonesian students study in a higher educational institution in Indonesia, while around 9,000 do so in a higher educational institution in the United States. In total, approximately 46,000 Indonesian students study at a tertiary level in an educational institution abroad. Therefore, around 62% of Indonesian students who leave the country to further their studies go to either Australia or the US to do so.

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