Indonesia fifth in teacher status rankings

Teachers in Indonesia are highly valued and well respected by members of the public, according to an international report.

Indonesia ranked fifth in the latest Global Teacher Status Index (GTSI) – higher than any other participating European or American country.

Researchers surveyed members of the public in 35 countries to explore attitudes to teachers and teaching. Questions included: Which occupation is most similar to a teacher in terms of status? Do you think students respect teachers? Would you encourage your child to become a teacher? How many hours do you think teachers work in a week? And, how much should they be paid?

The 2018 rankings released by the Varkey Foundation show, as in 2013, teachers in China recorded the highest status (index score of 100). Malaysia (93.3), Taiwan (70.2), Russia (65) and Indonesia (62.1) completed the top five. The countries occupying the bottom five places were Argentina (23.6), Ghana (18.9), Italy (13.6), Israel (6.6) and Brazil (1).

This is the second time the study has been carried out – the first was in 2013. Indonesia was one of 14 new countries added to the list of those surveyed in 2018. Australia was not included.

Key findings: How Indonesia compares

In one of the questions, participants were asked to rank primary, secondary and head teachers against 11 graduate or graduate-perceived occupations, according to how they are respected in their country. The other occupations were: doctor; nurse; librarian; local government manager; social worker; website designer; policeman; engineer; lawyer; accountant; and, management consultant.

The 1000 members of the public in Indonesia said the teaching profession is most similar to social work (24 per cent) or being a librarian (21 per cent). Less popular answers included nurses (15 per cent), doctors (10 per cent) and local government managers (4 per cent). There were only three countries – China, Russia and Malaysia – where members of the public ranked teaching as most similar in status to being a doctor.

Indonesians rate their education system a 6.98 out of 10, the sixth highest self-rating of the 35 countries. Researchers say this is at odds with student attainment – Indonesia ranks 27th of the surveyed countries by average scores in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

On the question of how teachers are viewed in the classroom by their students, two out of three survey participants in Indonesia (66 per cent) said they thought pupils respect their teachers – the fifth highest percentage of all 35 countries, behind Ghana (70 per cent), India (77 per cent), Uganda (79 per cent) and China (81 per cent).

‘Across Europe there are higher levels of pessimism about students' respect for teachers than in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. In most of the European countries surveyed, more respondents thought that pupils disrespect teachers than respect them,' the GTSI 2018 report says. In China 81 per cent of people said they believed students respect teachers, compared with the global average of just 36 per cent.

Despite valuing teachers highly, Indonesians were split on whether or not it was a profession they'd encourage their children to enter, with 32 per cent saying they would ‘definitely' or ‘probably' encourage them to be a teacher and 29 per cent saying they would ‘probably not' or ‘definitely not'.

Researchers report there were ‘significant contrasts' between countries when it came to this question. ‘While over 50 per cent of parents in China, India, Ghana and Malaysia provide positive encouragement, less than 8 per cent do so in Israel and Russia.'

When it came to how long full-time teachers spend on work (including outside school on marking and planning) during term, the report says, in all countries except for Indonesia, Finland, Italy, and China, the general public ‘systematically underestimates how much teachers work per week – often by more than 10 hours a week'. Indonesians estimated 33.6 hours per week, compared to the 31.9 hours actually reported by teachers.

Visit the Varkey Foundation website to download a copy of the full report for 2018 and find key statistics for Indonesia and some of the other 35 countries involved.

Teachers in Indonesia are highly valued and well respected by members of the public, according to an international report.