Indonesia: Education unionists Go Public! to address teacher shortage

published 21 December 2023 updated 3 January 2024

The Persekutuan Guru Republic Indonesia (PGRI) and the Education International Asia Pacific (EIAP) regional office jointly organised an event in the framework of the EI’s Go Public! Fund Education campaign, addressing the pressing issue of teacher shortage in Indonesia.

The gathering held on December 19th brought together more than 70 national and provincial union leaders, with an additional 200 virtual attendees from across the country, marking a concerted effort to tackle challenges in the country's education sector through advocacy at national and sub-national levels.

Teacher shortage, a barrier to quality education

Addressing the participants, PGRI president Unifah Rosyidi emphasised the government's responsibility to ensure that every child has access to free quality education.

Recognising challenges in terms of access to quality education, she went on to underline the urgent need to address teacher shortage, ensure equal status and benefits for all teachers, and adequate investment to education. PGRI, she said, firmly rejected the privatisation of education, asserting that the 20% of national budget earmarked to fund education should exclusively be devoted to strengthening the quality of education. A milestone achievement she highlighted was PGRI's successful advocacy, which lead to the deployment of PPPK (contract-based government employee) teachers who met passing grades.

Teacher shortage, a global crisis

Angelo Gavrielatos, manager of the Go Public! Fund Education campaign, underscored the global teacher shortage crisis, attributing it to low investment, underpaid teachers, and a declining status of the teaching profession. He further highlighted the need for a national campaign to address teacher shortage, stressing the importance of permanent teacher status and equal pay. He called for “a strategic approach to member recruitment,” and acknowledged “the crucial role of membership growth and dues to strengthen the organisation.”

Specific challenges for each Indonesian region

The meeting then examined regional challenges, offering a comprehensive view of diverse issues across provinces. From Central Kalimantan's sluggish school development to the Special Capital Region of Jakarta's mistreatment of teachers – in particular, poor service conditions and salaries, short term contracts – , each region presented its unique set of challenges. Solutions ranged from advocating for the appointment of trained and qualified teachers with better salaries and conditions, to proposing incentives and calling for more investment in education.

In the afternoon session, participants engaged in focused group discussions on key themes, such as teacher shortage and working conditions, teacher protection, discrimination, and financing education.

At the end of the meeting, participants enthusiastically reaffirmed their collective commitment to address systemic issues and promote positive change in the Indonesia's education landscape. They felt that collaborative efforts during the event showcased the strength of stakeholders coming together to tackle challenges, and insights gained from the event will serve as a foundation for actionable strategies, ensuring a more robust and equitable education system in Indonesia.

Ever growing union participation in Go Public! Fund Education

In his concluding remarks, EIAP regional director Anand Singh commended PGRI for its commitment to the Go Public! Fund Education campaign which represents a united front in the pursuit of quality education, teacher welfare, and the realisation of Indonesia's educational potential. “The collaborative spirit displayed during the event underscores the collective determination to shape a brighter future for the nation's learners and educators,” he noted.