Indonesia: Community Empowerment Improves Education Outcomes in Very Disadvantaged Areas

The diagnostic test led by User Committee (TNP2K/Abdurrahman)


Increasing teachers’ welfare has been a priority focus of Indonesian Government efforts to strengthen education and reduce poverty and inequality. National and district governments have allocated 20 percent of their budgets to improve education access and quality.

Yet recent studies* show that improved teachers’ welfare has not led to better student learning outcomes, and that the rate of teacher’s absenteeism in rural and remote areas remains high.

To improve teachers’ attendance the KIAT Guru pilot empowers communities to hold teachers accountable via User Committees (KPLs). The KIAT Guru pilot program was initiated by the National Team for the Acceleration of Poverty Reduction under the Secretariat of the Vice President of Indonesia Office (TNP2K) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Culture.

The pilot is a collaboration between the Ministry of Education and Culture, the National Team for the Acceleration of Poverty Reduction (TNP2K), and governments of five districts with disadvantaged villages. Yayasan BaKTI implements the program with technical supports from the World Bank and funding from the Government of Australia and USAID.

How KIAT Guru User Committees Work

Teachers are held accountable through agreements between KPLs and teachers. Agreements prioritize bottom-up service indicators to improve student learning environments.

In some pilot schools, KIAT Guru applies a performance-based pay mechanism to teachers’ remote area allowances. Performance-based pay is based either on the KPL’s verification of teachers’ presence, or the KPL’s score on teacher’s service performance.

KPLs are elected by the parents and community members. They are comprised of nine members – six parents of students and three community figures. To ensure gender balance at least half of KPL members must be women.

Many KPL members have only graduated from elementary schools—some have never received formal education. Unsurprisingly, parents in the KPL in Kumpang Tengah Village (Landak District in West Kalimantan province) were taken aback when they were assigned to evaluate teachers and test school children.

“At first, they said, ‘How can we do it? I didn’t go to school. I’m an elementary school dropout. I can only read. How can I test the children and evaluate teachers?’” said Bagas Suharjo, Community Facilitator at the Landak District.

Initial pilot findings suggest appropriate awareness, capacity building, monitoring instruments and legal support can empower communities to hold teachers accountable.

“Community empowerment has impacts on the quality of teacher service and students’ learning outcomes,” said Marliyanti, Community Development Officer at TNP2K.

“This mechanism, however, requires some prerequisites on the capacity of community facilitators and community members themselves, as well as the commitment of stakeholders from village-to-national level to support with regulations and financial resources,” cautioned Marliyanti.

Community Responses—Impact of KIAT Guru Pilot

Villagers in Landak District said the pilot helped them realize how low the quality of education in their area was.

“I don’t understand how students in Grade 5 and Grade 6 are still like those in Grade 1. They don’t know the alphabets, they can’t read...

I’m so grateful for KIAT Guru activities. I think we have to work as hard as we can because who else can do it but us,” said Yohannes Amtas, Head of KPL at Wana Bakti Village.

Martius, the Head of Kumpang Tengah Village, said KIAT Guru had helped people understand that community support plays a critical role in improving the quality of education.

“The community assigns KPL, not the school. Villagers decide on the representative to evaluate teachers’ performance,” he said.

Parents are also increasingly aware of their own roles in improving their children’s education.

“Previously, parents at home did not pay attention to how the children studied at home. The parents did not bother to provide learning tools, like a desk or a room for children to use.

After KIAT Guru, all parents are now paying attention to the learning process of their children. They signed the homework done by their children,” said Novi, KPL member of Wana Bakti Village.


*A UNICEF study (2012) revealed that the lack of supervision in these areas resulted in higher teacher absenteeism; A study on teacher absenteeism by the Analytical and Capacity Development Partnership (ACDP) (2014) found that one in five teachers was absent from remote schools—double the national rate.


(Hera Diani)