Primary and Secondary Education in Indonesia

Information on the system of schooling in Indonesia, from pre-primary to higher education...

Primary Education (Taman Kanak-Kanak - TK)

The informal education system includes playgroups and kindergartens, and is not under the free-of-charge official education programme. Playgroups (Kelompok Bermain) admit children aged two and three. Kindergarten (Taman Kanak-Kanak) Class A is for children aged four and TK Class B is for children aged five.

Although it is not mandatory for parents to send their children to kindergartens, this early stage of schooling is considered important in preparing children for enrolling in elementary school (Sekolah Dasar - SD). At TK 1 and 2 children are introduced to simple reading and counting skills.

Sekolah Dasar, for children aged 6 to 12, is the equivalent of elementary school in anglophone countries and marks the  beginning of compulsory education in Indonesia.

  • For information on government regulations regarding compulsory education: Click here (in Indonesian)

A child must be enrolled at a school by April for admission in July. Entrance for pupils in a public school is normally at the discretion of the school director. In private schools, the school foundation, which may include the parents' association, has their say in the pupils entrance policy.

English is taught as a foreign language from Grade 4 onwards.

Grades/years of Sekolah Dasar (SD)

UK, US name Indonesian Age Group
First Grade Kelas Satu 6 - 7 years
Second Grade Kelas Dua 7 - 8 years
Third Grade Kelas Tiga 8 - 9 years
Fourth Grade Kelas Empat 9 - 10 years
Fifth Grade Kelas Lima 10 - 11 years
Sixth Grade Kelas Enam 11 - 12 years

To enter secondary education, pupils of the sixth grade have to sit for two final examinations, the school final examination and the state (national) examination.

Secondary Education

Secondary education starts with Sekolah Menengah Pertama (SMP), or Junior High School, for pupils who have reached the age of 12 or 13 before the start of the school year. After finishing three years (Grades 1, 2 and 3) at SMP, pupils can continue their education and register at senior high school Sekolah Menengah Atas (SMA). The school system at SMP is similar to SD in that children stay in the same classroom and teachers come to the class following the class schedule.

Enrolment requirements vary between schools although generally the following will be required:

  • Application form
  • Birth certificate
  • Family Card
  • Exit certificate from the elementary school for first year students
  • End of term reports for the past year for students transferring from other schools during the 3 year SMP term
  • Two passport photographs

At the end of SMP, pupils have the option to enrol in a Senior High School, Sekolah Menengah Atas (SMA) or vocational high school, Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan (SMK). In third grade pupils are categorised in two or three different specialised groups:

  • IPA (science)
  • IPS (social and economic studies)
  • Bahasa (language and literature)

The third grade specialisation at SMA prepares pupils for further studies at higher education level.

Higher Education

Higher education institutions include universities, academies, and institutes as well as polytechnics.