K/L Innovation

Innovation for Indonesia’s School Children (INOVASI)

Summary of the intervention:

The Governments of Indonesia and Australia have been partnering since 2016 through the INOVASI (Innovation for Indonesia’s School Children) program to understand how to improve student learning outcomes, particularly in basic literacy and numeracy, in diverse schools and districts/city across Indonesia.

INOVASI support is implemented through a range of pilots in 17 partner districts/cities in West Nusa Tenggara; East Nusa Tenggara; North Kalimantan; and East Java. Pilots are designed based on locally nominated priority issues in education. Ultimately, INOVASI is seeking ‘best-fit’ solutions to tackle local challenges instead of ‘one size fits all’ solutions that are not always relevant for Indonesia’s diverse cultural contexts.

The program works directly at the sub-national level with MoUs signed between Ministry of Education and Culture (MoEC) with provincial governments, and also MoUs between provincial governments and district governments. In selected locations, INOVASI implements pilot activities in madrasah, or Islamic schools. INOVASI’s ongoing engagement with the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) allows MoRA to pilot its newly designed continuing professional development (CPD) system – developed with support from the TASS (Australian Government funded Technical Assistance for Education System Strengthening) program.

Background – the context and development challenges

Indonesia has made considerable improvements in access to basic education.  Government spending has doubled over the past 15 years, and enrolment in primary education is almost 100%.  Despite more children having access to learning opportunities, this has not yet resulted in better learning outcomes. Tests comparing student knowledge and skills in basic literacy and numeracy show that Indonesian students underperform compared with their regional and global peers.

Many reform initiatives aiming to improve student learning outcomes in Indonesia have also attempted to implement ‘one size fits all’ solutions and have not generated results that are wholly sustainable. These initiatives are not always relevant for Indonesia’s diverse cultural contexts. 

Stakeholders (including Australian Government)

  • Ministry of Education and Culture
  • Ministry of Religious Affairs
  • Australian Government (DFAT Australia)
  • Provincial Governments (West Nusa Tenggara, East Nusa Tenggara, North Kalimantan, East Java),
  • District/Municipality and Village Governments (North Lombok, Central Lombok, Sumbawa, West Sumbawa, Dompu, Bima, West Sumba, South-West Sumba, Central Sumba, East Sumba, Bulungan, Malinau, Sidoarjo, Pasuruan, Probolinggo, Sumenep, and Batu);
  • Ma’arif Nahdlatul Ulama Education Institute (LP Ma’arif NU) and Muhammadiyah;
  • 18 Education associations, NGOs, and universities across Indonesia


Teachers in INOVASI pilot locations have been learning new methods and tools for exploring literacy and numeracy-learning problems at the classroom and school level, with support from INOVASI’s local facilitators. Through the use of the iterative and problem-driven PDIA approach, many teachers in INOVASI partner districts have undergone a mindset shift, moving to understand that a student-centered teaching and learning approach can better lead to improved student learning outcomes in the classroom.

INOVASI seeks answers to the question of ‘what works’ by piloting and evaluating a range of approaches to improve teaching and learning in the classroom; to provide better support to teachers so they can teach more effectively in the classroom; and to enable all children in the classroom to reach their learning potential. By program end, when all the pilots have been implemented, INOVASI hopes to see partner districts and provinces apply and scale out effective and context relevant approaches to improving student learning outcomes, as developed and tested through the program.


INOVASI uses a distinctive approach to develop pilot activities and find out what does and doesn’t work to improve student learning outcomes in literacy and numeracy. This approach is called Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA). The PDIA process sees INOVASI working and learning directly with local partners to explore and identify local problems and co-design locally relevant solutions to learning challenges.

INOVASI’s approach is focussed on building local capacity. All stages involve local stakeholders including representatives from local government bodies, school principals, teachers, parents, communities and local organisations. Together, INOVASI and these local stakeholders explore and understand the local context à design solutions à try out and test proposed solutions – iterating with feedback à evaluate, document and share all parts of the pilot planning and implementation process, including lessons learnt.

By designing solutions with the very people who will use them, the opportunity for pilot success and finding out what does and does not work is strengthened.

Opportunities for replication

A key success indicator for INOVASI is replication of pilot activities by district and provincial government partners. In short, this means that partners expand current pilot approaches – those that have proven to be successful. INOVASI then supports this activity replication with technical guidance for monitoring and evaluation, and by ensuring that national and sub-national stakeholders have access to evidence on what does and doesn’t to improve learning outcomes for early grade students.

Scale out and policy development are already taking place in West Nusa Tenggara, East Nusa Tenggara and North Kalimantan and are budgeted for 2019 in all regions, including East Java. In 2018, allocated APBD to support pilot activities totalled approximately IDR 6 billion.


INOVASI is now implementing 47 education pilots across its 17 partner districts, including with grantee partners. Key results have included:

  • From July – December 2018 alone, we worked with 576 local facilitators, 1164 teachers, 220 principals and supervisors, 706 schools and reached 64,657 primary school students.
  • Scale-out and policy development is already taking place in West Nusa Tenggara, East Nusa Tenggara and North Kalimantan and are budgeted for 2019 in all regions, including East Java. Allocated local government funds (anggaran pendapatan dan belanja daerah – APBD) for scaling out and co-funding INOVASI pilots and activities in 2018 totalled approximately IDR 6 billion.
  • As a result of INOVASI’s pilot work and policy support, many districts are now developing policies and programs to institutionalise better approaches to key aspects of the system. These include policies on providing reading material for reading culture and literacy programs; ensuring that disabled and marginalised children are included; and establishing continuing professional development programs for teachers.
  • INOVASI identifies opportunities to integrate current pilot findings and learnings into existing policy activities, including the development of policy education road maps. This includes literacy or inclusive education road maps. INOVASI also contributes evidence and knowledge to regional development plans (RPJMD), ensuring a focus on learning outcomes.
  • For example, the regional planning and development body (Bappeda) in Central Sumba has agreed to include targets on quality improvement, along with other related indicators in their development plan. Central Sumba district also asked INOVASI to facilitate the preparation process for the regional development plan and the strategic plan for education.


INOVASI operates in a complex political and social cultural environment and faces a number of challenges and constraints. INOVASI is always working to improve how it:

  • Implements pilots using a locally driven approach, documenting findings and lessons learned quickly and effectively to ensure program iteration
  • Gathers credible evidence that can inform policy priorities

An additional challenge relates to the sustainability and continuation of pilot activities, beyond the lifetime of the program. Although several district government partners have readily allocated funds to support pilot expansion and replication, an ongoing challenge for INOVASI is to ensure that local government teams are ready to support this expansion. This includes in technical pilot design, monitoring and evaluation, human resources, and operational processes. Currently, local government partners are using a similar local facilitator (or ‘fasda’) model to support pilot expansion and activities. INOVASI will continue to work through these challenges with local partners in the coming 12 months.



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