Indonesia needs to revise its inclusive education act

Indonesia needs to revise its inclusive education act

Indonesia has been exerting its utmost efforts in implementing inclusive education. To date, the implementation of inclusive education in the country is governed in Permendiknas No. 70/2009 on Inclusive Education for Students with Disabilities and Outstanding Intelligence and/or Talent Potential.

While, since the publication of the act, inclusive education in Indonesia has witnessed crucial developments, Permendiknas No. 70/2009 does not yet conform with the United Nations Convention on Rights for Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The inclusive education act was introduced in 2009, before Indonesia ratified the UNCRPD through Law No. 19/2011 and Law No. 8/2016 concerning People with Disabilities.

As a result, if we scrutinise it more closely, there are many aspects within the act which are not in line with the UNCRPD and Law No. 8/2016, such as the terminologies used and the substance of norms contained in the act.

Moreover, the act appears half-hearted in encouraging the realization of inclusive education in Indonesia. Consequently, people with disabilities in the country continue to suffer problems in obtaining their rights to education.

Necessary Revisions

There are several reasons why the government in Indonesia needs to revise Permendiknas No. 70/2009.

One, the act still uses the term ‘peserta didik berkelainan’ (abnormal students) to refer to disabled students. This is certainly a problem because the term is not much different from terms such as ‘penyandang cacat’ (disabled individuals). The use of these terms tend to give an emphasis on an individual’s disorder or disability. Meanwhile, today the paradigm that is widely adopted has changed significantly. Disability is not only interpreted as a disorder owned by certain individuals, but also as a social environment which does not accommodate those with special needs.

The second reason is that not all types of disability are accommodated by the act. For example, Article 3 demonstrates that the act does not comprehensively regulate various types of disabilities entitled to inclusive education. One of the types of disability that is not included is psychosocial which belongs to the category of mental disability under Law No. 8/2016. This certainly has the potential to harm those with psychosocial disabilities because the existing act does not accommodate their rights to education. Not only that, the act is likely to lead to the growing stigma in the community which sees persons with psychosocial disabilities as insane and who do not deserve to have their rights.

Third, Permendiknas No. 70/2009 only requires the government to designate one inclusive school at each level in each sub-district. The provision contained in Article 4 certainly has the potential to harm persons with disabilities to get proper education. This is because the provision can be a legal loophole that is used as a reason for schools that are not registered as inclusive schools to refuse students with disabilities.

At the same time, this particular provision also contradicts Law No. 8/2016 which encourages students with disabilities to enroll at schools closest to their homes to ease their access. This might have a negative implication on the acceleration of the realization of inclusive education in Indonesia.

The last reason why Indonesia needs to revise its act is related to the availability of Guru Pembimbing Khusus (special-needs teachers). Up to now, special-needs teachers who function to support the realisation of inclusive education in the country’s public schools are teachers from Sekolah Luar Biasa (special-needs schools) who are seconded to the former. Hence, many of these teachers cannot dedicate sufficient time in inclusive schools because they have to divide their time between two schools. The main implication is that many of inclusive schools face difficulties in running optimally.

Permendiknas No 70/2009 only states that the government is obliged to ensure the availability of special-needs teachers in the implementation of inclusive education. Obviously this is a very insufficient regulation. The act needs to be revised which should include proper regulations on special-needs teachers; not only concerning availability, but also funding, quality and well-being.

Based on the reasons above, it is obvious that the government of Indonesia needs to exert its effort to revise Permendiknas No. 70/2009. Only by doing so can inclusive education in the country be optimally realized and students with disabilities in Indonesia will get their rights to education.


Featured image from USAID Indonesia.

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