The Education and Culture Ministry launched the 12-year compulsory education program on Tuesday, officially named the Universal Secondary Education ( Pendidikan Menengah Universal ), to give equal access to education for people between 16 and 18 years old.
The program will phase out the previous nine-year compulsory education program launched in 1994. The 12-year program will officially kick off this new school year in July.
Education and Culture Minister Mohammad Nuh said the program was in response to the changing demographic.
He said the education system needed to adapt to the reality that the country will see an increase in the number of productive-aged youths until 2035 and reap the benefits from them.
'The three major factors to improve the country's human development index are education, health and income per capita. Education is the engine to improve health and income per capita,' Nuh told a press conference on Tuesday.
Nuh said the program is a continuation of the initial 9-year compulsory education program. However, since Law No. 20/2003 on the national education system did not specifically recognize a 12-year compulsory education program, the ministry adopted a universal secondary education program moniker instead.
Ministry data shows that 98.11 percent of children aged between 13 and 15 years old received junior high school education in 2009. Currently, only 78.7 percent of over 12.6 million young people aged between 16 and 18 are enrolled in high schools.
Nuh said the ministry aimed to increase the percentage of high school students to 97 percent in 2020, with a target of enrolling around 400,000 new students every year.
For the 12-year compulsory education program, the ministry set aside Rp 1 million ( US$100 ) in school operational assistance ( BOS ) for every high school student.
The ministry also allocated funding to finance scholarships for the poor ( BSM ), ensuring that 1.7 million high school youngsters will get Rp 1 million every year.
Nuh said to accommodate the increasing school participation target, the ministry would improve school infrastructure by building more schools, reconstructing classrooms and facilities, as well as improving equipment.
'We will also increase the number of school teachers, particularly vocational school teachers, as we are still short of them,' he said.
Separately, Hamid Muhammad, the Education and Culture Ministry's director general for secondary education, said the ministry had earmarked Rp 11 trillion in 2013 to mainly finance the 12-year compulsory education program.
He said 50 percent of the funds would come from the state budget and the rest would be covered by the regional budget.
Hamid said around Rp 4.6 trillion of the budget would be used to finance the BOS scheme while another Rp 3 trillion would be spent on the construction of new school buildings as the improvement of existing facilities.
Another Rp 2.3 trillion would be allocated to cover teacher's allowance.
For the 12-year universal education program, the ministry plans to build 260 new schools and 5,000 new classrooms this year.
'Our target next year is to build 500 new schools; 300 vocational schools and 200 regular high schools, which will be equal to around 10,000 classrooms,' Hamid said.
'We would prefer to increase the number of vocational school in the country as we intend to direct students, who are unlikely to continue their study in university, to these institutions and equip them with specific skills,' Hamid said.