Per Ardua Ad Astra

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Implementation of Inclusive Education in Indonesia

The History of Education for The Disabled
The implementation of education for students with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) has existed prior to its independence. Sunardi, et al., (2011: 2) says that, in 1901, Pioneer Westhoff opened a sheltered workshop for the blind in Bandung. Then, Vereniging Onderwijs established a school namely the Folker School in 1927 which accepted students with mental retardation. The first school for the deaf also was initiated in 1930 by Roelfsema. The number of these schools increased which were mostly managed by non-governmental foundations and were widely designed to admit students with all types of disabilities. In the late twentieth century, approximately 208 special schools opened by the government were spread over 200 districts where schools for the disabled were absent. Hence, the government wishes that the wider the special schools reach out to every district, the more school-aged children could get education equally. 
In addition to providing education for them universally, the government also initiated an integrated program enabling the disabled to attend regular schools along with the regulation of primary school compulsory education. These schools implementing this program were called as integrated schools which admitted special needs students with only at least normal intelligence, mostly students with visual impairment, who were expected to be able to accomplish tasks academically compared to the non-disabled peers. Boby Poernomo (2016:144) explains that the first implementation of inclusive education was a pilot projects in nine provinces. Regarding of continuing this program, the government reinforces the practice of inclusive education by allocating a grant up to some million rupiahs. Both the schools and local government could use this funding for events or activities connected to the progress towards inclusive education such as providing the process of learning the skills teachers need and budgeting for instructional and administrative materials.

 Indonesia’s Disability Rights Timeline
As stated in the constitution of the Republic of Indonesia 1945, it is unequivocal that the government guarantees every Indonesian citizen has the right of education, which is emphasized in Law No.20/2003 on National Education System (Baby Poernomo, 2016: 144). The government also ratified various international legal instruments such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), World Declaration on Education for All (1990), UN Standard Rules on the Equal Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities (1993), UNESCO Salamanca Statement (1994), and Dakar Framework for Action (2000). The existence of the Salamanca Statement focused on education for all and assumpted to be inclusive strongly influenced the development of Indonesia’s education. To respond this statement, the government looked inclusive education as a new insight into the education field. 
In the light of the aforesaid, in 2013, the government initiated and enacted policies in order to enhance the implementation of inclusive education namely Direction Letter of the Directorate General of Primary and Secondary Education No 380/C.66/MN/2003, which elucidated about Special Education in Regular Schools stating that every district must operate at least four inclusive schools, one primary, secondary, generally high and vocational higher type. To encourage the implementation of this policy, the government promulgated a guideline for the implementation of inclusive schools. This guideline described six aspects that could support the practice of inclusiveness, which was school management, students enrollment process, curriculum, instruction, evaluation, and external supports. 

 Problems and Challenges
Some people believe that the successful improvement in inclusive schools is efforts to meet the needs of all students. This belief is expressed on the government’s guideline as mentioned previously. Based on the research conducted by Sunardi, et al., there were some findings related to the problem and challenges in which Indonesia is still experiencing. Firstly, more than 75% out of 186 inclusive schools admitted that extra attempts were still needed such as building relevant external parties, conducting regular coordination meetings, and having a strategic plan for inclusion, so that all schools would be well-prepared to manage inclusive education. Secondly, less than 50% of inclusive schools reported to have adequate identification and assessment systems and involve parents and relevant professional in order to guarantee the individual needs were properly met in the schools. 
Third, only 50% of inclusive schools had already modified curriculum standards, but the sports, arts, and vocational education programs for the disabled remained similar to the able-bodied peers because teachers did not have competence in adapting curriculum for students with disabilities. Then, for the schools who had already developed the curriculum, some lacked appropriate equipment, media, or resources, so it was quite difficult to meet individual needs. What is more, some government policies in evaluation do not support inclusion. For instance, the national exam for graduation was challenging for students with special needs because it enabled them who were with at least normal intellectual capability to pass required scores. Last but not least, external supports provided by the government or society were not ample to boost inclusive environment because this term was relatively new, therefore, parents and community might have a limited understanding of it. As mentioned by Baby Poernomo (2016: 148), a lack of understanding and knowledge in the educational system is a part of unintentional attitudinal barriers. Hence, despite the fact that there is impressive progress on inclusive education in Indonesia, inclusive schools still need government’s interference in improving the implementation of inclusive education.

Poernomo, Baby. (2016). The Implementation of Inclusive Education in Indonesia: Current Problems and Challenges. American International Journal of Social Science. Vol 2, No. 3, June 2016.
Sunardi, et al.. (2011). The Implementation of Inclusive Education for Students with Special Needs in Indonesia. Excellence in Higher Education 2 (2011): 1-10.


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