"The system has made it easier for us to monitor the implementation of school activities."
"Our school plan has improved, and remains the same even if the principal changes."
"All stakeholders can now access the school plan and budget, making the process more transparent and increasing accountability."
A major focus of our Improving Dimensions of Teaching, Education Management and Learning Environment (ID-TEMAN) program’s work is to support the government on the delivery of education, including school management. And, this is some of the feedback we received from school principals on an electronic school planning and budgeting system that ID-TEMAN supported the Ministry of Education to develop and pilot.
Why is this support important? Over the past 15 years, Indonesia has introduced comprehensive education reforms and a constitutional mandate to allocate at least 20% of its annual budget to education. These reforms have been implemented within a context of decentralization across government which puts local governments, particularly districts and provinces, at the heart of basic education service delivery. A major challenge now is ensuring that increased local spending delivers better learning outcomes.
Overall, while resources available to schools have increased, they still do not have the capacity to use them most effectively. According to government guidelines, schools are supposed to plan spending to achieve the national education standards and minimum service standards within their scope of activities, such as learning process and education content. The process involves a school self-evaluation to identify challenges in achieving these standards, which is then used to develop school annual plans and budgets. Schools are expected to monitor their performance against these targets and use the data to inform planning for the following year.
A forthcoming study by the World Bank in support of the Ministry of Education and Culture found that only two-thirds of schools reported using data on the national standards for planning, and that most schools develop plans and budgets on paper. This means the government cannot easily access these plans and monitor their progress. To address these challenges, the World Bank, in partnership with the Australian Government, supported the Ministry on developing an Electronic Performance-based School Planning and Budgeting System (known as “e-RKAS”), to help schools better plan and allocate resources according to their needs. This was piloted in select schools in Central Java and Bali provinces and Gorontalo, Sidenreng Rappang, and Mojokerto districts.
How does the system work?
The process begins with schools conducting a self-evaluation of how they score against National Education Standards. Schools then develop improvement plans and budgets based on these results. For example, if a school scores poorly on “education content” which includes components such as learning materials, it would allocate more resources to this area, making budgeting more responsive to its needs. The system also includes a “local unit cost price” for goods and services so that budgeting is accurate. A national standard unit cost is available, but the actual unit cost varies greatly across districts.
Once the plans and budgets have been uploaded, schools and district education offices have access to data on school planning, real time spending, and school expenditures at the end of the fiscal year. Additionally, reports on school spending are automatically generated four times a year, which helps reduce the administrative burden on schools and improve the timeliness and accuracy of reporting.
Plans to expand the use of electronic systems are underway
After the pilot, the Ministry of Education and Culture developed a partly-offline system which also works in schools with limited internet connectivity. It has now committed to scaling up this system nationally by providing training to districts, who in turn will be responsible for training schools. The new policy was announced in the 2018 Budget Note (Nota Keuangan), and the scale up is planned for 2020, but allocating funding for the scale up is the next, critical step.
The shift to a more responsive and transparent system is also making its way to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which provides formal education services for 8.8 million students – more than the student populations of Malaysia (7.2 million) and Peru (6.3 million). ID-TEMAN is supporting the Ministry to pilot a Madrasah Electronic Planning and Budgeting System (e-RKAM) in 60 madrasahs in Jombang district and Yogyakarta province. Using its own funding, and with technical support from the World Bank, the Ministry has been training another 2,000 madrasahs across all 34 provinces.
Building these systems to support improved achievement of education standards at the level of service delivery is critical for Indonesia to ensure students are learning and equipped with the skills they need to enter today’s workforce, and ultimately to reducing poverty and boosting economic growth.