The Indonesian government has reported that only 37.8% of the nation’s children under age six have access to early childhood education programs. The government faces a tough challenge if it wishes to meet its goal of increasing that access to 72% by 2014.
Though preschool education is not mandatory in Indonesia, experts note that it is highly important for children’s development.
According to Save the Children’s education advisor Lusi Margiyani, “Children grow rapidly during the early childhood period. Proper interventions, such as boosting literacy skills, are crucial.”
A preschool education introduces literacy and numeracy, and increases school confidence later on, according to other experts.
Indonesia’s early childhood education ministry has increased children’s gross participation rate in preschool by almost four percentage points since 2011, but the department says it is held back from further gains due to budget reasons.
With a lack of funds limiting the construction of new preschools, the ministry’s director-general Lydia Freyani Hawadi notes that at the current rate, it would take 15 years to reach the government’s eventual goal of establishing a preschool in every village in Indonesia.
She says they are compromising with the funds they have by using existing public spaces to set up preschools. Mosques, churches, and temples are being used to carve out a space for early childhood education programs at a relatively low cost.
Programs like Save the Children’s Literacy Boost are also contributing resources and striving to improve the quality of preschools.
Save the Children’s Lusi notes that preschool access is essential, as the early childhood period is among the most important stages of life.
“A failure to carry out a timely intervention cannot be corrected in later years,” she warns.
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