Modernization, Class, and Inequality in Indonesia’s Higher Education

Sulaiman Mappiasse Email: Ph.D. Program Department of Sociology University of Hawaii

*Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Hawaii Forum at East-West Center September 6, 2008  

Modernization, Class, and Inequality in Indonesia’s Higher Education1
“One of the great achievement of capitalism is to develop human productive capacity to such an extent that it makes the radical egalitarianism needed for human flourishing materially feasible, yet capitalism also creates institutions and power relations that block the actual achievement of egalitarianism” (E. O. Wright, 2005, p. 7)

Introduction This article is intended to examine how education system has increasingly become an effective screening device to include certain groups of people and exclude others from entering higher education based on their class situations in Indonesia. In other words, it is interested in exploring factors (i.e. structural and cultural) involved in the making of education system in Indonesia as a tool of social exclusion. I argue that this phenomenon results from the process of modernization movement characterized with educational institutionalization driven by class and political interests alongside with the global and capitalist forces in Indonesia since 50s. Afterward, education system became a state subinstitution believed to have an ability to equalize citizen life chances through equal distributions of knowledge and education resources to the people. However, different class interests within class relations occurring in society has been transferred and embedded into this “equalizing” institution – a process that has weakened its equalizing power. Interestingly, there is a relatively corresponding relationship between the degree of state power and of the education agency as an equalizer. Class interests and relations can be found both at micro and macro level (for micro and macro definition, see Wright, 2005, p. 19-20). Therefore, it is desirable in this article to examine the issue at both levels, under the assumption that what is happening at the macro level should have effects on the micro level and vice versa. While at the macro level,

 Sulaiman Mappiasse, Paperwork Pusat Studi Kesenjangan Pendidikan Indonesia (PSKPI), Email 


globalization, state, and class structure are assumed to have affected Indonesia’s education system, at the micro level, on the other hand, it is assumed that market division and reproduction of class culture have influences on it. It is expected that by being able to explain these class interests and relations at micro and macro level, I will be able to show how the process of “rational” modernization in Indonesia has contributed significantly to the creation of two types of citizens – first who are included and allowed to have privilege in entering higher education system; and second, who are excluded and removed from having opportunities to perform class and education mobility. Inequality in Indonesia’s Education System The principal constitution of Indonesia (UUD 45) states explicitly that the main aim of the country as a nation-state is to “educate its people in order to bring prosperity for all.” This ideal type of national commitment to realize “education for all” has been translated by developing a national system of education since 1954 to the present. Along with its political and economical changes, equality to access education always becomes the main goal of its educational programs. However, it is argued that policy changes in education to attenuate inequality of access to education have been proved to fail. Of subsidies for higher education in 1978, 83 percent had been enjoyed by the students from higher income groups (Fahmi, 2007). Zhao (2006) found that government effort to expand access to mass education from 1970-1997 has increased participation in primary education, but it has not reduced the existing structured inequality in educational mobility. Fahmi (2007) mentioned several studies from other developing countries indicating that both mass higher education system (e.g. Kariwo, 2007; Salmi & Hauptman, 2006; Lewis & Dundar, 2002; Gunawardena, 1999; Ziderman & Albrecht, 1994; and Psacharopouslos, 1991) and privatized higher education system (e.g. Espinoza, 2007) were found failing to

eliminate inequality to access higher education. In other words, shifting higher education from elite to mass access does not necessarily result in eliminating access inequality among class groups. Similarly, privatizing higher education is most likely to increase inequality. From 2000, the government has cut higher education subsidies and asked several top national public universities to generate their own financial resources. Interestingly, the economic crisis hitting the country in 1997 did not affect the increasing number of students who apply and enroll to universities (Welch, 2007). As a result, only students from better off families can afford to obtain the best higher education available in the country. The large discrepancy between applicants to the national public universities (450,000 each year) and the number of seats available (75,000) has caused highly competitive environment. In order to be able to pass the exam, students must have a prior access to a high quality senior secondary school and extra special training in private study centers. Only students from high income group can afford to have such extra trainings and good quality schools. Most of these good quality schools and private training centers are located in urban areas. One of the latest surveys showed that only 3.3 percent students from the lowest 20 % of the income groups, compared to 30.9 percent of the students from the highest 20 % of the income groups, managed to pass the test (Nizam, 2006). Along with this development from mass to market oriented or privatized higher education, testing, evaluation, and quality assurance have been increasingly used as an “objective” selection mechanism from individual level to institutional level. Quality assurance practices at institutional level made universities to increase their academic standard of enrolment. However, this symbolic power embedded in an objective mechanism has created two types of citizens, i.e. the “winners” and the “losers”.


Globalization, State, and Class on Education What factors shape an education system in a contemporary society? Contemporary globalization with its various means (i.e. world global systems, transnational governmental and nongovernmental organizations, and mass media) has an ability to affect education system, class relations, and state. However, state as a modern institution has a mediating function to mediate different interests brought to it by global forces and class conflicts at the class structural level in a stratified society. Furthermore, at micro level, class conflicts exist either inside or outside education system in a society at the individual or group level. So, class is a very complex concept and entity because it is dynamic, multilevel, and multidimensional.

State  Macro


Class origin  Micro


Class destination 

Figure: Interaction of globalization, state, and class on education

Globalization and Education Wallerstein argues that the structure of the modern university system corresponds to the political systems of the age. Modernity brought a new global world, one driven by markets, political states, and social change. Studies developed by universities all over the world tend to be structured in similar ways through international higher education cooperation. These universities developed areas of studies that would be politically useful and relevant (Allan, 2007).

In general, globalization is a condition where people all over the world are involved in exchanging processes. However, people have associated globalization with different meanings. Some argue that globalization is about “the emergence of supranational institutions whose decisions shape and constrain policy options for any particular nation states”. Some relate globalization to the “overwhelming impact of global economic processes of production, consumption, trade, capital flow, and monetary independence”. Some associate it with the signaling “rise of economic liberalism as a dominant policy discourse”. Some argue that it is related to the “changing cultural forms, communication technologies, the shaping and reshaping of identities, and interactions within and between cultures”. Others define globalization more practical as the “construction of policy-makers responding to the demands of organizations” such as the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organizations (WTO) which leave governments with ‘no choice’ but to play by a complex set of global rules, rules not of their making (Kassem, 2006, p. 197). All of these globalization dimensions, I argue, interconnect to form multi-dimensional forces as a result of global interactions where three types of nations, according to Wallerstein, are created: core, semi-periphery, and periphery (Allen, 2007). On the global world system, core states, such as the United States and European states, play dominant role by which they enforce control on other nations through global regulatory organizations, global mass media, and the global flow of economy and populations. Importantly, even though those core states become dominants in the “world game”, they also become weakened by the non-traditional or non-governmental movements operating outside state control, such green peace movement or notorious terrorist organizations. In education, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations are increasingly playing a role in establishing and enforcing global laws and regulating economic transactions. These organizations are like United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural

Organization (UNESCO), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the World Bank (WB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF). These organizations are advocating a variety of educational programs ranging from schooling for human capital development to education for the protection of human rights (Kassem, 2006). Often, in order to have educational supports from them, a country has to sign or agree with certain requirements that maintain the privilege of the dominant state or capitalist. Global economic downturn since 80s has brought about increasing pressure on several developing countries, including Indonesia. As a result, many countries including developed countries such as America has started to adopt neo-liberal economic policies by which many public services, including education has been privatized. Reducing public subsidies for these services and allowing privatization has created two types of citizens; those you are protected by the state and those who are excluded by the state. Mostly, only those who have high economic positions in society will be included, and those who are weak and poor will be excluded. The privatization of education system has changed the social value of education to become economic value that can be marketized and sold as goods. Consequently, objectified standards created to enable consumers to make better choices (Kassem, 2006). When they have become choosy, education services have to compete to increase their quality followed by increasing prices. Increasing prices will disadvantage the poor people. Class and Education Class conflict at state and global level can influence how education system is shaped. So, education as a sub-system of a state can become a social conflict arena where state plays a mediating role. The capitalist in a state cannot achieve its market oriented activities in education system without going through a system called “state”. On the other hand, working and middle class people cannot make significant changes on education system without state

mediation. It should be born in mind that both education system and state are the products of modernity manifested in power institutionalization to realize efficiency and rationalization. Modernity has made these institutional relations unique in its inter-connectivity. Interestingly, within these class relations, state is seen as responsible for justice and equity to normalize existing injustice and inequality in society where education must play important role to improve the class position of the subordinated groups by providing opportunities to access relevant knowledge and certification. In contrast to the equalizing function of education system, the capitalist relations of productions create market labor to reproduce social inequality (Carnoy & Levin, 1986). Earlier, Marx implied that education could be a powerful device for the ruling class to maintain and reproduce their own class positions by stressing that “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas” (Marx & Engels, 1976, v. 6, p. 35). People who own the means of production, according to Marx, often control others’ relations to the mode of production and product (Marx & Engels, 1976). If education is taken to its contemporary definition as a thing that has been objectively commodified and traded, it appears that the types or modes of education, its contents and how it must be produced are controlled by those who have means of production. In other words, the dominant groups have more control and access to educational resources – a class condition that will allow them to maintain and promote their class positions. On the other hand, the dominated groups have to struggle against the dominant power to increase their life chances through education. Weber sees that class is determined by individual market conditions. One’s market conditions are measured based on the types of skills and knowledge he or she brings to the market. In other words, types of skills and knowledge individuals have will determine their class locations in society. In relation to education nowadays, it plays very important roles in determining what kinds of skills and knowledge individuals have and how these skills place

them in the structure of society (Weber, 2006). This implies that there is a corresponding relation between education system and the structure of society because people will pursue types of skills and knowledge in education that can help them to increase their class positions in society. Emile Durkheim defines education as an “influence exercised by adult generations on those that are not yet ready for social life. Its object is to stimulate and develop in the child a certain number of physical, intellectual and moral states which are demanded of him by both the political society as a whole, and by the particular milieu for which he is specifically destined” (Durkheim, 1972, p. 204). According to Durkheim, education is a natural action taken by the adult to transmit a set of life skills to enable childrent to function well in soceity. The object of this process is to create a deep-lying disposition for life. The direction of it is very much influenced by the goal set by society. When a secularized world has become the goal of society member conception, the means of education by no means will change (Durkheim, 1972). From these theorists, it can be understood that both education and state are arenas of class conflict and class reproduction. How class conflict occurs in education system? This occurs as a result of the contradictory realities created by the capitalist. It promises equality, but at the same time it actively produces division of labor where class relations are stratified and reproduced from generation to generation. On behalf of effiency, stratified system are created within education system to serve the need of hierarchical structure existing in the labor market. On other hand, on behalf of social mobility and democratic partipation, the dominated demand to make education as equalizing opportunities. “It is the conflict between these forces of capitalism and democracy that detemine the nature of education” (Carnoy & Levin, 1986).


State and Education It had been thought that state as a key provider of education acted independently economically and politically to regulate itself within its border in the world system. Thus, state can make autonomous decision to lead people in particular directions for their interests. This view, in the contemporary world, cannot be true anymore because education has become an expression of class interests. At global level, state policies are mainly constrained by the world system of capitalist production whereas on the domestic level it is constrained by the particular way of its national production system. So, as Carnoy and Levin (1986) argue, educational policy may be autonomous from production in its individual setting but cannot be autonomous from the division of labor produced by the particular position of a country in the world system. State in this sense either represents dominant class views in their constrained economic and political position in the world system or is a class conflict field played out within its domestic borders. Within this class conflict, state plays a significant role in education politics. Often, conflicting demands on educational finances, teacher training, media of instructions, and curricula are mediated through the state. Thus, according to Wong (2002), state interventions in the school system always bring about multiple and contradictory consequences (Wong, 2002) by which class conflicts are manifested. Increasing conflicts in education mediated state has made the state as an important site for organizing capitalist hegemony. By then, social struggle by the capitalist is shifted from the capitalist ground to the state. This condition makes the degree of restriction differs from one state to others. Those states that have more dependency will be more conditioned in what they can do compared to those that enjoy less dependency, such as highly industrialized capitalist states. Transnational corporations based in developed countries and metropole states greatly influence state actions in peripheral nations (Carnoy & Levin, 1986). But, however the differences among nations in their dependency, each nation has an interest to use

education system as a social control by teaching its citizens to behave according to its cultural blueprint and division of labor (Shipman, 1971). Reproduction Theory: Social Division of Labor and Cultural Reproduction How education system corresponds to the class structure at the micro level? Some argue (e.g. Carnoy and Bowels) that education system in fact corresponds to the stratified structure of labor market. Education operates to reproduces class relations according to the existing division of labor in society. This process, according to Bowles (1971), contradicts to ideological argument of the modern capitalist that asserted the equalizing force of education to encounter the disequalizing forces inherent in the free market system. There is no doubt, however, that to some extent education also forcefully democratized the access to highly rewarded occupational roles, and therefore, fostering genuine social mobility (Mach & Wesolowski, 1982). Education, as a part of a state, has its own autonomous life just as a state does. However, it cannot be denied that educational system is an integral element in the reproduction of the prevailing structure of society. Bowels and Gintis (1976) explain how class relations reproduced through education that brings about inequality. In order for education to reproduce social relations of production, educational system treats people in a way that makes it possible to subordinate them. When they are sufficiently fragmented in consciousness, they are prepared for getting together to shape their own material existence (Bowels & Gintis, 1976). By this way, their consciousness is reproduced through education to fit into the stratified hierarchy of production relations. The structure of social relations in education does not only indurate the students to the discipline of the workplace by shaping social relation consciousness, but it also develops the types of personal behaviors, self-presentation, and social class identifications that are important to perform adequately in job markets in the future. This structure is very much

manifested in the social relationships between administrators and teachers, teachers and students, students and students, and students and their work. The way this relationship operates duplicates the hierarchical division of labor. Within and between schools, there would differences in the social relationships reflecting student social background and their likely class positions. These differences or inequalities are furthered by their disparities in financial resources (Bowels & Gintis, 1976). According to Marceau (1974) “the background of the class structure, and indeed the entire reward system of modern western society, is the occupational order. Other sources of economic and symbolic advantage do coexist alongside the occupational order but for the great majority of population, these tend to be secondary to those deriving from the division of labor” (p.207). In other words, education system is more about representing division of labor as it exists in society. Bowles (1971) explains this perspective that “One’s status, income, and personal autonomy came to depend in great measure on one’s place in the hierarchy of work relations. And in turn, positions in the social division of labor came to be associated with educational credentials reflecting number of years of schooling and the quality of education received. The increasing importance of schooling as a mechanism for allocating children to positions in the class structure played a major part in legitimizing the structure of itself. But at the same time, it undermined the simple processes which in the past had preserved the positions and privilege of the upper class families from generation to generation. In short, it undermined the processes serving to reproduce the social division of labor (p. 140). This perspective differs from Boudieu who empasizes the important of cultural reproduction through education in allocationg childrent to a certain class destinition. Bourdieu argues that education is a product of the class relations in society, rooted in family, then tranfered to education. So, students and families carry their class positions into education system with all of its capical forms. Bourdieu (1977) is well-known as the pioner of the science of the reproduction of structures that he defines as “a system of objective relations which impart their relational properties to individuals whom they pre-exist and survive (p. 487).” This idea can be traced

back to the notion of material dialectic history coined by Marx where he argues that “men are not free to choose their productive forces – which are the basis of all their history – for every productive force, is an acquired force, the product of the former activity” (Marx and Engels, 1975). “Marx recognized the link between economic status and ideology. But he did not appreciate how important a role the very cultures of social privilege played in actually producing and reproducing the material reality of economic power” (Liechty, 2003, p. 12). In other words, men are products of the pre-existing social structures so that they are not free to exercise their own agency. These structures, for Bourdieu, are not limited to economic base, but they also include cultural and social resources that can be converted to economic resources. Thus, for Bourdieu, it does not so important to make a differentiation among economic, cultural and social resources. However, he does not deny that economy is the main source of the class power. Both theories of reproduction of division of labor and cultural reproduction imply that in education there is a social exclusion process where education system becomes a competition arena to screen who should go on and who should not go on to a certain lot of class destination (Ball, 2003, p. 15). Process of Modernization and Inequalization in Indonesia’s Higher Education Indonesia as pre-state country has a long history of education reflecting its social and political development under different forces that are mostly associated with religion and cultures, i.e. Animism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. Each of these cultural identities has its own epoch in Indonesia pre-state history. Indonesia’s education system had developed and increasingly become a tool of “neutral and objective” exclusion through the process of modern institutionalization.


Higher Education in Newly Born State: Capitalism, Communism, and Religion (1945-1965) Education as an ideological tool After its independence from the Dutch and Japan in August 1945, Indonesia has changed to be a new nation-state. It should be born in mind that nation-state is a product of capitalist system. In 1959, the first President of Indonesia launched his political manifesto as a manifestation of its global political view and its domestic policy direction where education became indoctrination tool to achieve certain political goals. All education policies were directed top-down to dictate people views, behavior, and actions. During this time, the world system was dominated by two super powers; the United States of America representing capitalism in the west and the Soviet Union representing communism. Indonesia along with several countries, such as India, Egypt and the initial Czechoslovakia tried to free themselves from both super powers by creating an alternative alliance called The New Emerging Forces. In order for this ideological and political direction to have mass support, education was used to indoctrinate people by the elite of the country. Schools, teachers and public did not have a space to interpret what had been set by the elite. They only had to transfer values and knowledge that were set by the elite to the people all over the country. Even though it was claimed by the politicians that they wanted to get rid of the two super power dominations at that time, actually their political direction was mostly in favor of the socialist ideology. In one his important speech, the first president of Indonesia, Soekarno concluded “Therefore, it was clear that the forces of the Indonesian social revolution, namely all people of Indonesia where the working class and the peasant as its basic power without taking aside the important role of the other groups (classes), were very significant and convincing about the victory of the Indonesian revolution” (Translated from Tilaar, 1995, p. 94)


During this period (1954-1969), the ideal type of development was directed to realize a just and prosperous society applying what is called “guided economy and democracy”. This political policy wanted to utilize all resources to fight against colonial effects, threats of capitalism and free fight liberalism. Interestingly, higher education development also was viewed as an important medium to realize their political goals. Therefore, from 1951 to 1960, there were 16 higher education institutions established all over the country, mostly located in Java island, to fulfill highly skill human resources required to achieve the goal of “the universal plan of the national development” (Brojonegoro, 2001). In 1960, the government wanted to make sure that these newly erected colleges and universities were in line with the dominant political orientation in the country, so a set of codes must be implemented. First, higher education was obligated to produce red experts to help develop the socialist oriented country based on the spirit of Pancasila – the five basic principles of Indonesian ideology – and the spirit of the state political manifesto. Second, higher education was recommended to support basic and applied research to meet the need of the Indonesian society, particularly food, home, and developmental infrastructure. Third, higher education was asked to integrate itself with society to be the enlightenment base in order to build a link between higher education and the contextual issues of society (Tilaar, 1995). Global and Local Ideological Conflicts: Politics, Religion, and Education The outstanding conflict during this time had a political and ideological base. Interestingly, this conflict is influenced very much by the global world system after the War World II. On other hand, there were ideological conflicts at the domestic levels. Each party competed to enforce their ideological identities to become national identities. Nationalists were divided into two poles, namely pro-capitalist nationalist and pro-socialist nationalist. These two opposing parties were supported by several intelligentsia graduated from the Netherland universities. On the other hand, there were religious based groups, i.e. Muslims

and Christians. Muslim groups were generally supported by intelligentsia who graduated from al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt and several other informal learning centers in the Middle-East. Small Christian groups were mostly attached either to the pro-socialist, especially Chinese, or to the pro-capitalist. These ideological forces were not so much to do with class conflict in higher education in terms of social relations of production. However, these ideological conflicts brought ideological debate in higher education curriculum, especially subjects related to the social values. They agreed that Indonesia needed skillful experts in variety of fields, especially medicine, engineering, and agriculture. However, the ideological temptations were too strong so that they failed to solve the real problems. It was not strange that they were debating whether religious subjects should be taught at higher education or not. In short, practical politics and ideological conflicts were too strong that educational and economic programs of Soekarno’s regime failed to realize progressive changes. In addition, the country was experiencing extreme economic crisis with a very high rate of inflation – 1966 (600 %), 1967 (100 %), 1968 (85 %), 1969 (10 %) respectively (Tilaar, 1995). In relation to class relations in higher education, because most citizens do not have basic and secondary education, as a result of the discriminating education system during the three century period of the Dutch colonization, only Chinese middle-class, native aristocrat, and European children who were allowed to attend schools. Lay people could only attend schools to learn how to read, write, and speak in Dutch language or local languages in order to be able to meet colonizer needs for clerical jobs. This implies that those who went to universities during the period of Soekarno’s regime were the children of the elite class because most people did not graduate from primary and secondary schools.


Industrializing an Agrarian Country: Power, Prosperity, and Class Struggle (19651998) Power Transition: From One Authoritarian to another Authoritarian When Soeharto took over Soekarno’s administration of the country after the historical coup d'état in 1965 where nine high rank generals from the Indonesian Army were killed allegedly by the communist party – a party that was supporting the political manifesto of Soekarno. Soeharto called his era as a New Order by which he made a promise to realize the dreams of justice and prosperity for all Indonesian people as Soekarno did. Soeharto’s economic orientation was relatively pro-capitalist, and was willing to open international cooperations with other countries based on the principle of Non-Aligned co-operation during the Cold War. Soeharto’s tank thinkers from the Army officers suggested from the beginning that political and ideological conflicts must be avoided and all resources must be oriented to develop economy. They recommended that educational development must be freed from political issues and be given autonomy to operate independently (Tilaar, 1995, p. 114). As a result, political and cultural oppressions to the sub-ordinate groups were legitimized under national stability and security pretext. In order to industrialize the country, natural resources were highly exploited and exported to other developed countries to fund the establishment of several industrial bases all over the country, mostly concentrated in urban areas, especially capital cities in Java. His regime had also tried to develop rural areas by providing small loans for home industries and modernizing agricultural systems. However, most of these projects failed due to ineffective monitoring system that allowed corruptions. Promising Development, Sad Ending In 70s when the price of oil was increasing dramatically, it was the best time for Soeharto’s regime to develop his economic programs where he promised that in 25 years (i.e. in 1998) he would have changed the country to be highly developed and industrialized. In

designing his economic program, he was supported by Indonesian economists graduated from American universities in 70s, especially University of California, Berkeley. In this period, the government also had worked closely with some international organizations, such as the World Bank and UNESCO – two international institutions that involved in monitoring and directing the regulation of public services and policies in Indonesia. In 80s, the urbanization rate to Java from other islands, such as Sulawesi, Sumatra, and Kalimantan was significantly increasing as the result of economic deregulation where private sectors were given opportunities to have investment loans from public banks. So, many urban job opportunities were open and attracted migrants from the rural areas. This economic deregulation was in fact a direct impact of the emerging global economic crisis. Indonesia suffered severely from the 1997’s crisis due to its high dependency on exported products since its development in 70s. This economic crisis alongside with the political oppressions had forced Soeharto’s regime to step down in May 1998. Emerging Middle Class: Quality and Inequality in Higher Education Sarjadi (1994) argued that 80s was the beginning of the middle class emergence that was increasingly formed in 90s. Quoted by Sarjadi, Soetrisno described this emerging middle class as a group of people who had independent political views and had influencing economic power in Indonesia (p.23). In education, the thirty two years of Soeharto administration had made significant change where through mass education program Indonesia had succeeded to reduce illiteracy rate from 72 percent in 1980 to 35 percent in 1995 (Welch, 2003). Participation index of higher education for 19-20 year age group increased from 1.6 percent (around 200.000 students) in 1968 to 10.5 percent (around 1.700.000 students) in 1998 (Tilaar, 1995; Welch, 2003). However, opportunities provided to attend higher education was very biased to the students from the better off families. The Work Bank data in 1978 showed that 83 percent of

the subsidies for higher education was received by the students from the upper class group. Interestingly, this trend was increasing steadily from 1987 to 1998 (see Table 1) students from the highest SES dominated entrance to higher education institutions from 27.6 percent in 1987 to become 45 percent in 1998 regardless of the 1997’s economic crisis. This is consistent with the data shown in Table 2 where the economic crisis in 1997 did not affect the increasing rate of enrolment to higher education.
Table 1: Proportion of each SES quintile attending higher education institutions, 1987-1998 (%)
SES quintile I II III IV V 1987 2.6 3.5 6.6 13.1 27.6 1990 3 5 8.2 13.4 25.3 1992 3.6 4.7 7.7 14.3 26.6 1994 3.9 4.9 10 18.4 35.8 1996 5.1 8 12.4 22 43.5 1998 4.4 7.6 12.6 22.9 45

Adapted from Fahmi (2007) Table 2: Growth of Indonesian higher education, 1970-1998
1970 Enrolments 206,800 1980 543,175 1990 1,590,593 1998 1,690,662

Adapted from Welch (2003) I argue that this phenomenon indicates the power of the emerging middle class who had had economic and influencing political power in the country since 80s. During the crisis time, they had been resistant and stubborn to the change. I assumed that their class positions had been played out well during the rapid change of politics, national institutions, and policies after the collapse of Soeharto’s regime. This rapid expansion of education had been accompanied by a demand, according to the policy makers, to ensure that quality had been achieved and maintained. As a result, a new institution within education was created what was called evaluation and testing system. For elementary and junior high schools, this evaluation in the form of final examination

conducted each year by the national ministry of education had two purposes, i.e. for certification (pass or fail) and selection to move on to a higher level of education. For senior high schools, this final exam served as a certification only, because universities, both public and private, had their own entrance tests. This system had been in effect till the early 70s. From the early 70s to the early 80s, this national examination was changed into school examination by which each school had its own test and decided who passed and failed. From the mid 80s to present, school examination systems had been changed to be national examination (Mohandas, Wei, & Keeves, 2003). Test and evaluation is one of the effective mechanisms of exclusion to advantage dominant groups. Power Questioned, Class Negotiation Started It is interesting that educational development was not followed by significant development in legal policy during Soeharto’s regime. Not until 1989, Soeharto’s regime released a new act of national education replacing the old act released by Soekarno’s regime in 1954. With respect to higher education, not until 1990, the government produced a new regulation to replace higher education regulation of 1961. I argue that this new development in educational legal policy was influenced by the increasing complexity of social relations of Indonesian citizens. Under the global economic and politic development, and development of labor market, the government realized that the old regulations could not accommodate all demands of different interests. Importantly, it also indicates the weakening status of the state as a result of the emerging global economic crisis in 80s. Therefore, its control power was decreasing. In his speech, the ministry of national education in 1989 explained that “there were several political contents in the previous higher education regulation of 1961 that could not be tolerated anymore … and it was important to introduce new regulation in order for the people to avoid anarchism (Sistem Pendidikan Nasional, 1989, p. 6, 8).” In addition,

according to him, there was also an increasing need to unite all education system under the umbrella of the national education system. In the old national education law of 1954, schools and colleges that were organized by different religious groups were not recognized as legal education systems, such as private educational institutions managed by Muslim and Christian communities. There was also discrimination toward religious schools and colleges under the ministry of religious affairs. The new act of national education year 1989 recognized this non-secular education system. Furthermore, education program was highly expected to serve the available division of labor in the process of national development. In order to fulfill this need, alongside with general schools and colleges, there was increasing number of vocational schools and colleges. In his national speech in August 1994, Soeharto asserted that vocational schools and colleges must be developed to meet the need of semi-skilled and high skilled labors for business and industrial fields. Educational system during Suharto era was very centralized and controlled strictly by the governmental policy. Education was used to indoctrinate ideology of Pancasila focusing on the principle of the national unity and less on the principle of social justice. As a consequence, people had less control on educational policy and institutions. However, in 90s when the economic crisis showed signs, the civic movement and students found opportunities to express their ideas against Soeharto’s oppressive regime. A group of people concerned with democracy asked changes in educational policy to allow civil participations and to erase ideological and political indoctrination practices done by the ruling power. They argued that Pancasila as a national ideology should not be interpreted only based on the ruling ideas, but its interpretations should come from all Indonesian people. It should be born in mind that indoctrination of Pancasila as the single ideology of the country was done actively from the


primary education to higher education under the state control. Only state regime had right to interpret it. Interestingly, none of Soeharto’s regime statements during that time expressed the emerging threat of the global condition on the national development. I argue that his regime willingness to introduce new initiatives in educational policies was influenced by the deteriorating economic condition of the country. A movement to include groups that were initially excluded from the system was in fact an indication of his weakening authoritarian power. Many were excluded from the system due to political and ideological reasons, such as Chinese descendents and religious activists. It is worth noting also that in 80s and 90s, Soeharto tried to attract sympathy from the Muslim intelligentsias who were the main streaming power among the middle class people. His willingness to inaugurate the establishment of the national association of the Muslim intellectuals in 1990 was a big question because he had taken a distance from Muslim activists from the beginning of his regime. Democratization and Decentralization Movement Started from Higher Education It seems that education during Soeharto’s regime had a special place in order to support their modernization and industrialization program under the rhetoric of social justice and prosperity for all. Nevertheless, policy dynamic during his administration had not been played out significantly. I think this is much to do with his authoritarian direction using national stability and security as a pretext. But, at the end his political direction could not escape from the global world system. Emerging global economic crisis in 80s to 90s had shaken his industrialization project. At the same time, it had allowed civil society movement to challenge his power legitimacy. Interestingly, his regime leniency to listen to the people voices who wanted changes in education system to include the excluded groups had only

started to increase during the time of emerging economic crisis. Most of these groups were excluded for political and ideological reasons. As a result, significant change in higher education in 1994 was achieved four years before the end of Soeharto’s regime and beginning of democracy in Indonesia. This change in higher education policy orientation demanded the central government to change management system in higher education to be autonomous in developing relevant knowledge and culture to the development of the global world. They argued that mass and decentralized governance of higher education would not improve the competitiveness of higher education in Indonesia. On the other hand, there was strong demand to unify higher education system under the same national standard to ease its management complexity. This institutionalizing effort was legitimized through the release of the government regulation on higher education regarding community participation in developing higher education in 1990. As a result, a new board called National Accreditation Board (BAN) was established in 1994 under the ministerial decision letter, then renewed in 1998. Under this new policy, it was stressed that both public and private higher education institutions would be treated in the same way based on the same principle of quality assurance (Brojonegoro, 2001). This implies the partial shift of the higher education control from the government to the civil society. On the other hand, it implicitly indicates the direct impact of emerging economic crisis forcing the central government to deregulate its relationship to the society. I argue that the demand to unify higher education system under efficiency pretext as well as the demand to unify education system to include the excluded groups was partly influenced by the middle class interests to access educational policies in the country, especially private and religious educational institutions. High quality private and religious education systems were owned by the middle class people, both Muslims and Christians.


This policy and political direction had social impacts on individual access to higher education at micro level. Like subsidies that were dominated by the better off families for three decades of Soeharto’s regime through mass education system, decreasing subsidies shifted the resources of inequality from the policy level problem to the market problem. Giving the market opportunities to solve inequality of access problem often disadvantages students from the lower income families because they have less economic and cultural power to compete. This change in higher education was called a change from an old paradigm to a new paradigm of higher education. The core idea of this new paradigm is to decentralize higher education system. Interestingly, the idea of decentralization was first introduced in higher education, than introduced later in the government system in 1999. I argue that this is part of the indicator of the emerging middle class forces played out mostly by intelligentsia groups that have strong social networks within and outside education system. It cannot be denied that democratization movement in the country was mainly supported and designed by many scholars who had their higher education in western countries, especially the United States and Australia. The current spokesman of the presidency, Andi Mallarangeng, who is a PhD graduate from one of the American universities for example, was the main designer of the government transition from centralized to decentralized system in 1998-1999. Another important figure is Amin Rais, an earlier PhD graduate from an American university, was the chair of the People Assembly during the transition time. Preserving Class Position from the Bottom During this time on the micro level, tracking practices from the early schooling age within each school was popular to identify who were capable to go on education and who were not. This was similar to what happened in American schools at some point as Lucas (1999) described “tracking was designed not only to slot students into positions in the

economy, but also to encourage the individual student to resign himself or herself to this lot (p. 11-12)]. Schools were also increasingly stratified where better schools increased their selection grade standards. Thus, those who are good students will go to the same schools. At the same time, the government developed so-called “model schools”. They argued that these model schools would become samples for other schools to improve their quality. However, usually these model schools were used to legitimize the government success by claiming that student success in these schools was the indicator of the government success in education development. Importantly, these schools reflected a rational design to stratify social relations through education because usually such schools only wanted to accept well-performed students. Both “good” and “bad” quality schools during this time were practicing ability grouping system where students were stratified into different class rooms according to their academic ability under the rhetoric of intelligence testing. These class practices in education at the micro level reflect the need of the dominant class to preserve their privileges. Negotiating Class Interests in a New Democratic Environment within a Weakening State (1998-2008) Following the collapse of Soeharto’s regime in May 1998, there was a rapid change in the structure of the national institution. The most important mode of change was a shift from a centralized system to a decentralized system. It was argued that by shifting power from the central government to the provinces, districts, and sub-districts would provide opportunities for the people to participate in the process of national development. In other words, this will motivate people to involve in the national development by giving them trust to do so. In order to legalize this new political direction, the constitution of the country has experienced four amendments. Along with this constitutional amendment, different legal products were released. In 1999, the government released the Act of Sub-national Governance and the Act of Financial Balance between Central Government and Sub-National Government.

Institutionalization: Negotiating Power Relations in Education In education, in order to implement a decentralized system of education, the Act of National Education Year 2003 was released to replace the Act of National Education Year 1989 that was considered incompatible with the latest development in the structure of the national institutions. Following the release of this new act of education, several legal products in education were produced. First, in 2005, the Act of Teacher and Lecturer released to professionalize teaching jobs based on certification, educational qualification, and credentiality. Second, in the same year, a government regulation on the National Education Standard was released to set benchmark for the minimum quality of education required from school and higher education institutions. This becomes the main parameter to determine whether an education institution has done its tasks. In other words, power relations between educational institutions and their customers are regulated and mediated by the government through legal documents or texts. There was an “independent” institution established involving education experts, mostly educational management, so-called National Education Standard Board to monitor the implementation of this standard. Third, in 2005 the government introduced to the public a legal bill called the Act of Educational Legal Entity. This legal bill was severely criticized by the public and has not released until now. This legal bill was blamed for supporting the privatization of education system from the primary level to the higher education level. The government argued that by giving autonomy to schools, colleges and universities to manage themselves, it would stimulate “positive” competition among players in the market. As a result, according to the government, the quality of education will be increased. The government will only provide financial supports for the education institutions on merit base through grants. Similarly to the poor students, they will be given financial supports if they can make high achievement.


The latest development was that the government had been considering changing the ratio between general and vocational schools to be 30:70 (Kompas, July 28, 2008). The government also has been considering reducing the number of schools offering social and political sciences, humanity, and law. They argued that many college graduates from social sciences became jobless because jobs relevant to their disciplines are not available. So, they argued that job market in the current Indonesian society requires more graduates from technical, economy, and IT schools (Kompas, February 11, 2008). This direction supports strongly the notion of corresponding relations between education and division of labor. I assume that such direction is directed by dominant groups who need human labor for their business activities. In higher education, as a consequence of the paradigm change and institutional development in the country, the state launched a new government regulation in 1999 as a legal basis to transform state public universities to become autonomous universities labeled “State Legal Entity University”. Some called this process as a privatization action that will lead to the exclusion of the underprivileged citizens from getting access to higher education. But, most of the pro government people argued that this was the only way to get rid of any problems associated with the underdeveloped condition of Indonesia’s higher education compared to other neighboring countries’ higher education. The state was proactive to realize this project by asking the four most established universities (University of Indonesia, University of Gadjah Mada, Technology Institute of Bandung, and Agriculture Institute of Bogor) to submit proposals to change their status. Indeed, these four universities had changed to be state legal entity universities in 2000. As a consequence, their bureaucracy was separated from the state and their management has become more market oriented. This number has been increasing to be about ten universities by then. I argue that these institutionalization processes and market problems are part of the

class relation consolidation dominated by the middle class utilizing democracy to maintain their privilege through state hegemony. On the other side, economic, market, and political development at the global level has, to some extent, contributed to the dynamic of this class relation through trans-national education co-operations under the demand to internationalize education system. This internationalization project is expected to enable Indonesian education system to compete at the global level. Larger Participation, Higher Cost for Higher Education How this policy and institutional change has affected access to higher education? As shown in Table 3, cost to obtain a civil engineering degree from the public state legal entity universities (i.e. ITB and UGM) has increased dramatically. Before their status changed, this cost has been lower than private university because they were subsidized by the government. The most affected student groups to have access to such expensive education are students from the lower economy groups. However, it should be noted that the initial subsidies distributed equally to all universities had also been dominated by the higher class student groups. Table 3: Costs of obtaining a civil engineering degree, public vs. private university University Trisakti (Private) ITB (Public State UGM (Public State Legal Entity) Legal Entity) Donation 0 45 50 Annual fee 10-12 3.6 2.7 Practice fee 1.5 Unknown Unknown Fee per subject Unknown Unknown (U/G) 26-28 48.6 52.7 Total
NB. All fees and donations expressed in Millions of Rupiah (1US$=8.500 Rupiah) Source: Tempo 1st June 2003, and Suara Merdeka 22nd June 2003

Adapted from Welch (2003) I assume that this inequality occurs due to at least three recent developments. First, inability of the government to control the middle class forces to dominate its public policy decision within Indonesia’s education system. Second, unintended effect of the previous

democratic movement that was directed by the middle class group who struggled against the initial authoritarian state in order to have larger participation in education system. However, their victory has direct effect on the less privileged people. Third, the global market forces in education, especially higher education, have required equal standards to all education system; no matter how the economic condition of a country where education system is located. Universities that cannot fulfill this requirement will be excluded from the global market. Global Control on Education On international level, Indonesian schools participated in the international evaluation program called TIMSS for math and sciences in 1999, 2003, and 2007, and PIRLS for reading achievement in 2006. Indonesia participated also in the international higher education association and regionally at the ASEAN higher education forum. Usually, studies done by the organizing international institutions are used to make policy recommendations to the countries participating in order to increase their performance in education. Furthermore, international organizations that support these trans-national organizations provide technical experts to help these countries to reform their education institutions in a way that is recommended by their sponsoring organizations. Thus, educational policies made at the domestic level are inevitably to some extent directed by these international organizations, especially when the state control of the participating countries are experiencing economic and political problems. I argue that middle class intelligentsia both who work for the government and for the non-governmental organizations has played an important role in the processes of this power relation construction. Class Preservation from the Bottom Continued Exclusion practices through selection mechanism also exist at the primary and secondary schools. When the tracking system had not been welcomed anymore in schools due to its discriminating force at individual level, other more hegemonic forms of exclusion

mechanism replaced it – this relatively new practice had been found at the school level. Schools had been stratified into national and international schools as a form of reward to the schools that managed to perform well. Usually, these schools set a high grade standard for entrance. Thus, only can well performed kids go to such prestigious schools. Operational financial support provided by the government through public funding cannot change this stratification because this financial support is distributed to schools (both public and private) based on the number of students they have. Often, well performed schools have much more students compared to less privileged schools. Most of the well performed schools have either special international or local programs that are provided to serve the need of whom they call talented or gifted student groups. Such kids usually come from better off families. Their parents also contribute financially through donation program to the schools. Students who are less privileged, if they want to go to higher education, have to compete for entrance exams with these well prepared students academically, culturally and economically from the beginning of their schooling experiences. Another current resource of inequality in Indonesian education is the geographical locations of schools and universities. This year 2008, the central government has decided to allocate 20 percent out of the total annual budget for education sector in 2009. Sub-national governments will be obliged to provide the same percentage of the financial support to help education within their borders. The problem is that provinces and districts in the country have large disparities in their economic capabilities. Thus, provinces and districts that are better economically are most likely to provide higher amount of the financial allocation for education program within their administrative borders. Conclusion Ability of an independent state to control policy depends on its economic power, class structure, and structure of the global world system. Indonesia during Soekarno’s regime

failed to implement its political and economic agendas because it did not have enough economic power to carry out its agendas. In addition, it was not well prepared to develop a significant collaboration with other developed countries due to uncertain political stance it had within the global system that was divided to be the West Block (capitalism) and the Eastern Block (communism). Soeharto’s regime had succeeded to control the country within 32 years, but when the global economic crisis emerged, it lost trust from the public to bring justice and prosperity for the people. In addition, the global inter-connectivity and interdependency as a result of the capitalist expansion facilitated by rapid development in information and transportation technology had weakened the controlling power of the state. Consequently, the way the state managed had to change from centralized system – that heavily relied on an authoritarian leadership – to decentralized system where the authoritarian leadership style must be changed to be democratic or participatory leadership. In this condition, the status of the state was shifted from having a relatively absolute control on the system to become a mediating actor. When the state becomes a mediator for many conflicting interests, a tendency to apply rational capitalism on the principle of efficiency in managing state institutions and services, such as education, increases. Interestingly, this tendency becomes more salient when Indonesia was facing economic crisis. Economic crisis has forced the state to partly give away its control to the market. Once its services marketized, institutionalization through documents and organizations has emerged to facilitate social relations in communicating interests. However, such document and organization are more likely to reflect the interest of the capitalist where the middle class groups increasingly become “opportunist parasite” that act ambiguously to protect their class interests, especially during the time of uncertainty. Marger (2005) comments on the US situation as follows The economic and social opportunity structures within which people must operate, therefore, are fundamentally shaped by public policies (p. 203) … To understand how capitalism as an economic system creates and assures inequality, we need to consider

the capitalist framework. The two most basic characteristics that shape economic activity in capitalist society are the competitive pursuit of profit and the private ownership of property … The confluence of capitalism and democracy thus seems to create a contradiction. Capitalism is founded on liberty, which creates inequality; democracy is founded on equality, that is, fairness for all (p.206). Carnoy and Levin (1986) explain the US case during the previous global economic crisis, The implicit message is that better education is a question of better “management”, better teaching promoted by competition, and greater student discipline (p. 44). Recent market oriented of the Indonesian education system, especially higher education has shown how education has been managed and rationalized by establishing different educational institutions and organizations boosted by legal documents. These modernized bureaucratic institutions have operated in fact as a selection mechanism in education at individual and institutional level. Standardization and measurability has become “neutralized and objectified” devices to exclude less privileged students at the individual level to perform educational and social mobility. On the other hand, these institutions also have operated “objectively” to determine what schools and colleges “counted”. In order for the school and university to gain more profit in local, national and international the market they have to recruit those who are well established economically, politically and culturally. Furthermore, under the influence of the internalization of education, educational institutions compete to gain the best input to be counted and recognized internationally. Best input means best students intellectually and economically. This rational exclusion has been performed intentionally or unintentionally on behalf of modernization, development and internationalization where the middle class expressed its interests ambiguously, but played very important role. Reference: A. English Allan, K. (2007). The social lens: An invitation to social and sociological theory. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

Bourdieu, P. (1977). Cultural reproduction and social reproduction. In J. K. Halsey, Power and ideology in education (p. 487-510). New York: Oxford University Press. Bowles, S. (1971). Unequal education and the reproduction of the social division of labor. Review of Radical Political Economics, 3, 137-151. Bowles, S., & Gintis, H. (1976). Education and personal development. In S. B. Gintis, Schooling in capitalist America: Educational reform and the contradictions of economic life (pp. 125-148). New York: Basic Books, Inc. Carnoy, M., & Levin, H. M. (1986). Educational reform and class conflict. Journal of Education, 168(1), 35-46. Durkheim, E. (1972). Education and Sociology. In A. Giddens, Emile Durkheim: Selected works (p. 204). London: Cambridge University Press. Fahmi, M. (2007). Indonesian higher education: The chronicle, recent development and the new legal entity universities. Retrieved on November 12, 2008, from Kassem, D. (2006). Global education: Global issues. In D. Kassem, Educational studies: Issues and critical perspectives (pp. 197-198). Buckingham, BGR: Open University Press. Liechty, M. (2003). Suitably modern: making middle-class culture in a new consumer society. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Lucas, S. R. (1999). Tracking inequality: Stratification and mobility in American high schools. New York: Teacher College Press. Mach, B. W. & Wesolowski, W. (1982). Social mobility and social structure. London: Routledge & Kagen Paul. Marceau, J. (1974). Education and social mobility in France. In Frank Parkin, The social analysis of class structure (pp. 205-235). London: Tavistock Publications Limited. Marger, M. (2005). Social inequality: Patterns and processes. Boston: McGrawHill. Marx, K. & Engels, F. (1976). Collected works, 1848-90. London: ElecBook.  Marx, K. & Engels, F. (1975). Selected correspondence, 1846-95. London: Greenwood Press.  Mohandas, R., Wei, M. H., & Keeves, J. P. (2003). Evaluation and accountability in Asian and Pacific countries (p. 107-122). In J. P. Keeves (Ed.), International handbook of educational research in the Asia-Pacific region (Part One). The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Nizam. (2006). The need for higher education reform. In UNESCO, Higher education in East-Asia (pp. 35-68). Bangkok: UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education. Shipman, M. D. (1971). Education and modernization. London: Faber and Faber. Weber, M. (2006). Class, status, party. In D. B. Grusky, & S. Szelenyi, Inequality: Classic readings in race, class, and gender (pp. 35-53). Colorado: Westview Press. Welch, A. R. (2003). Blurred vision? : Public and private higher education in Indonesia. High Educ, 54, 665-687. Wong, T. (2002). Hegemonies compared: State formation and Chinese school politics in postwar Singapore and Hong Kong. New York: RoutledgeFalmer. Wright, E. O. (Ed.) (2005). Approaches to class analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. B. Bahasa Indonesia Brojonegoro, S. M. (2001). Implementasi paradigm baru di perguruan tinggi. In Fasli Jalal and Dedi Supriadi, Reformasi pendidikan dalam konteks otonomi daerah (p. 361-412) Yogyakarta: Adicita Karya Nusa. Sarjadi, S. (1994). Kaum pinggiran kelas menengah quo vadis? Jakarta: Gramedia. Tilaar, H. A. R. (1995). 50 tahun pembangunan pendidikan nasional 1945-1995: Suatu analysis kebijakan. Jakarta: Grasindo. SISDIKNAS (1989). Sistem Pendidikan nasional: Undang-undang republik Indonesia No. 2 Tahun 1989. Jakarta: Dharma Bhakti. Kompas (July 29, 2008). Miopi kebijakan Pendidikan. Retrived on December 15, 2008, from Kompas (February 11, 2008). Jumlah pengangguran terdidik terus meningkat. Retrieved on December 15, 2008, from


Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful