Expats in Jakarta have a wide variety of schooling options available. While public schools are not a popular choice among expat families, the city boasts an impressive array of international schools. These cater to expat students from a number of countries, including the UK, the US, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and Singapore. Many international schools also offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme.
Public schools in Jakarta
Compulsory schooling starts at age seven in Indonesia and lasts for nine years, during which time schooling is free of charge.
Public schools in Jakarta are administered by the local government and follow the Indonesian curriculum. The teaching language at these schools is Bahasa Indonesia.
The most significant deterrent for most expat families is the language barrier that exists in public schooling. Expats moving to the city with children generally send them to one of the many excellent international schools instead, especially if they'll only be in Indonesia for a limited time.
Private schools in Jakarta
Private schools in Indonesia usually offer an international curriculum in combination with the local Indonesian curriculum, and classes are generally in English rather than Indonesian. The International Baccalaureate is commonly taught in these schools.
While the majority of students at private schools are Indonesian, some expat parents choose to send their children to these schools due to the lower fees compared to international schools and the opportunity for more cultural integration for their children.
International schools in Jakarta
Though international schools can often be expensive, they usually offer a good standard of education, and also have the advantage of allowing children to continue with a familiar and internationally recognised curriculum.
In a bid to regulate the quality of education in Indonesia, the government no longer permits schools to use the word 'international' in their title. Prior to this regulation, low-quality schools would often tack 'international' on their names as a justification to charge high fees. Most international schools are now classified as Satuan Pendidikan Kerjasama (SPK) – this roughly translates as collaborative schools. SPK schools are required to teach Indonesian civics, religion and language.
Special-needs education in Jakarta
Jakarta has two types of public schools that cater to special-needs students: inclusive schools and extraordinary schools. Inclusive schools have a student body made up of both special needs and mainstream students, while extraordinary schools are dedicated solely to special-needs students. Most expat families find that the government doesn't offer adequare support and instead opt for private schooling.
It's worth noting that many international schools can provide the specialised services such a student would require, depending on the severity of the condition in question. Parents should enquire with individual schools to find out about the special-needs support they can offer as well as the costs involved.
Tutors in Jakarta
Tutors are widely used in Indonesia. For expat families, tutors can be a great help in giving expat children a leg up in adjusting to a new school, especially if an unfamiliar curriculum or language unfamiliar is involved. Some expat families hire a tutor to help maintain a child's mother tongue, or to help them learn and refine Indonesian or English quickly.
The months leading up to final exams are a busy time for tutors, who are often hired to help students reach peak performance. Most tutors specialise in a particular subject, but some are able to help across the board, especially when it comes to teaching general essay writing and study techniques.
►For an extended overview of Indonesia's education system, see Education and Schools in Indonesia
"My daughter settled much easier than I imagined she would. I think it helped that there were kids in the neighbourhood that adored her and that she attends the same school I teach at. We walk to school together every morning, and our routine is set in stone. I think having this routine from the very beginning helped her adjust quickly." Read more about Spanish-Swedish expat Lidia's experiences in Indonesia.
Are you an expat living in Jakarta?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Jakarta. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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