Prabowo campaign promises to raise teachers’ salary to IDR20 million if elected, Jokowi campaign says ‘don’t sing lullabies’

Students at an Indonesian school. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Students at an Indonesian school. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Teaching is among the most under-appreciated professions in Indonesia, with many public school teachers earning below minimum wage in their respective regions while others work under the “honorary” (contractual) system that pays even less.

Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto’s campaign team says, if elected, Prabowo will raise teachers’ salary to IDR20 million (US$1,370) in order to improve their welfare and, consequently, the quality of education in Indonesia as well.

As reported by CNN Indonesia, Mardani Ali Sera, deputy chairman of Prabowo’s campaign team, says education is one of their key focuses. He argues that a high salary for teachers will not only benefit local teachers, but attract the best teachers from around the world to Indonesia as well.

“That’s why, whether you want to or not, teachers’ salary must be raised to IDR20 million. We will be able to carefully select the best teachers,” Mardani said.

Andre Rosiade, a campaign spokesperson for Prabowo, told Kumparan that the salary hike — which would also be given to police and military officers — would not put a strain on the National Budget.

Presidential Palace spokesperson Ali Mochtar Ngabalin were among those from President Joko Widodo’s camp to criticize the salary hike plan, arguing that implementing such huge raises without straining the National Budget is highly unrealistic.

“Don’t use narratives and stories like you’re singing lullabies to teachers,” Ngabalin told Kumparan today.

“That’s if they get into power. Even before they get into power they’re already lying, imagine if they’re actually in power.”

While any attempt to improve the quality of education and teachers in Indonesia is commendable, whether or not it’s reasonable to raise teachers’ salaries by such a magnitude remains to be seen. A survey in 2016 showed that Indonesian public teachers, on average, earn IDR2.1 million to IDR3.32 million per month, with pay at the higher range of that average usually going to public university professors.

A recent CNN Indonesia article also found that teachers on contracts, especially in less developed regions of the country, can earn as little as IDR250 thousand per month.

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