School Zone System isn’t Going to Change Anything, at least Not Much

The School Zone System (widely known as Zonasi) has a purpose of giving people more access to education, according to PERMENDIKBUD No 51, 2018. There are at least three reasons why accessibility to education need to be improved. The first reason is that some people do not have access to education. The second is even if they have access to it, they don’t want to get it for some reasons. And the last is even if they want to get it, and they can get it, what they get is not what they are expecting to get in the first place.

Here is how school zone System works in a glimpse. When the students register themselves, they can choose only one out of three options available which are the School zone system, the achievement, and Parents job reassignment. School zone system will contribute to 90% of the school’s admission, the later will contribute to only 5% each. Which means most of students will have to use zone school system to enter School. Government through minister of education decided a school or several schools and they also decide how far the school can cover an area. Simply put, the nearer you are from that school the more likely you will get to that school and as consequence if you register to a school and somebody lives closer to that school then your chance to get into the school will also decrease.


Does the zone system improve the education accessibility?

Will those people (who previously can’t get education) get education under this new system? Naturally participation to education is increase every year as more people realize the importance of education. So with or without the system more people will naturally participate in basic education. Moreover, the basic education is mostly free. The data from BPS support this as well, the participation of students on basic education increase every year. Takes example from Participation in High school Level which in 2012 is only about 77,62 % rise to 84, 80 % in 2018 (the implementation of zone system starts at 2016). However, in a way, people will realize that now they have equal chance to enter certain school as oppose to what they previously believe that they can’t do that since they don’t have enough grades.

Source: UNICEF SDG Baseline Report 2015

Despite the increasing participation in school, the number of children who stop going to school is still high. Based on UNICEF’s data on 2015, there is a disparity between those families who are considered 20% of the poorest and 20% of the richest. In which only 58% of the poorest manage to finish their middle school while 92% of richest able to complete their middle school. The number is even lower on high school which reach 31 % for the poorest and 82% of the richest. From this data, a correlation can be drawn that the poorest opt-out school despite the fact that School fee is mostly cover by government starting 2005.

Source: UNICEF SDG Baseline Report 2015

Under the new system, will more people choose to stay in school? I don’t really think it is very correlated since the new system does not specifically force children to stay in school. Moreover, if we consider that it is most likely those from lower class who opt-out their participation because of economic reason. Meaning that unless the economic condition is improving, there is no reason those numbers will go up. The good news is however the overall participation of children (based on UNICEF) in basic education has been significantly improving to reach 95 % (Only Papua hasn’t reach 90%).

Finally, the purpose for this system is to stop certain schools being flooded with applicants and to equally spread those applicants in other school. The reason for this flood of applicants only to certain school was obviously because some schools are considered having better quality compare to the others. It’s is very natural for parents to sign up their kids into the best school that they can get even if it is very far. They only need to wake up earlier to take their children to school as consequence.

This decision is not without consequence. For example, some areas are known to have residence who belongs to the high and middle economic class where school participation is high while some others are located on the area where people live below the poverty line. Those schools might lost students fast and being underfunded since the don’t have as many students as other school. Not to mention those want wanted to cheat the system by bribery or using their political power to insert their children into certain school is another problem that can happen. It still happening even in countries which have adopted the system way before Indonesia.

At the end, this is probably a rather pessimistic observation to School Zone System. It is not a perfect system to all of Our education problem. However Countries likes Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and etc have tried and successfully implemented it. We could be next on the list. Besides any proposal to reduce gap inside the society especially gap in education is worth-try and supported.




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Faizal Bochari

Faizal Bochari

Wandering Soulless

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