Guide to Indonesia – Education System, Cost of Living, Visa Process

September 03, 2017 | Teach English in Indonesia

About Indonesia

The Republic of Indonesia, popularly known as Indonesia, is a transcontinental country that is located chiefly in Southeast Asia and has some of its territories in the region of Oceania. Indonesia is the largest island country in the world and it is situated in between the Pacific and Indian oceans. The Indonesian archipelago consists of 17,500 or more islands, of which about 1000 islands are permanently inhabited. Indonesia is the 14th largest country in the world in terms of total land area; it is also the 7th largest country in the world in terms of land and sea area combined. With an approximate population of 264 million people, Indonesia ranks fourth on the list of most populous countries. Among all Austronesian countries and Muslim-majority nations of the world, Indonesia has the highest population. Java, the most populous island of Indonesia as well as the world, is home to more than 50% of the Indonesian population. This article will serve as a guide to Indonesia for those who want to relocate there and are interested in teaching the English language in this country. 

Indonesia is a sovereign state that follows a unitary system of government. Its republican government is constituted of an elected legislature and a President. The nation has a total of 34 provinces – among these 5 provinces have been given Special Administrative Status. These are Aceh, the Special Region of Yogyakarta, Papua, West Papua, and Special Capital Region of Jakarta. Being the Indonesian capital, Jakarta is the most populous city in the country as well as the entire Southeast Asia. Indonesia shares its land borders with East Timor, East Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea. Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines, Palau, Australia are among its neighboring countries. In spite of having a large population as well as high population densities in certain regions, the country also supports significantly high levels of biodiversity in its vast backcountry.

Guide to Indonesia – Economy

Indonesia is rich in a variety of natural resources such as oil and natural gas, copper, tin, and gold. It is also a major producer of rice, tea, coffee, palm oil, cacao, rubber, spices and medicinal plants. It has a strong footing in international trade and its main trading partners include the US, Japan, China, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. Indonesia’s economic development is supported by its domestic framework and the global environment. Fiscal management, as well as credibility, has been bettered, and as result, GDP growth in Indonesia has increased from 4.9% in Q4 of 2016 to 5% in Q1 of 2017. Factors that have contributed to this growth are an increase in domestic consumption and rise in exports-volume. The nation has been investing more to ensure early-childhood development. There has been better integration across different sectors to launch development programs that focus on the betterment of early-childhood.

Guide to Indonesia – Demography

Indonesia has numerous native ethnic as well as linguistic groups that are distinct from one another. It has been estimated than 700+ languages are spoken in this island country! Among the ethnic and linguistic groups, the Javanese is both the largest and politically dominant. The population representing this group is spread unevenly throughout the Indonesian archipelago. As per the national census that was conducted in 2010, Indonesia had a population of around 238 million. The population of Indonesia grows at the rate of about 2% per year, which suggests that by the year 2020, the country will have a population of almost 270 million. The figure is expected to cross the 320 million mark by the year 2050. Almost 8 million Indonesians that live overseas constitute one of the largest diasporas of the world. Most of these migrant Indonesians live in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, the US, the UAE, and the Netherlands.

As has been mentioned above, Indonesia exhibits a vast ethnic diversity. There are approximately 300 distinct ethnic groups that are native to this huge island nation. Among all of these, the biggest ethnic group is comprised of the Javanese. These people form more than 40% of the total population of Indonesia. Among the non-Javanese groups, the largest ones are the Sundanese, the Madurese, and the ethnic Malays. Although a huge ethnocultural diversity has been responsible for creating well-established regional identities, it is important to note that Indonesians, as a whole, harbor a deep sense of national identity.

Guide to Indonesia – Education

The education system in Indonesia is quite robust, and education is mandatory for a period of 12 years that include 6 years of primary education, 3 years of secondary education,  and 3 years of tertiary (or university-level) education. The Constitution of Indonesia makes it compulsory to allocate an impressive 20% of the national budget for education. Besides the state-run schools, that are non-sectarian, there are private and semi-private Islamic schools. Among these two types of schools, the first category is supervised by the Ministry of Education and Culture, and the second group of institutions is financed and supervised by the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Indonesia also has a number of international schools that are mostly private. These schools do not follow the prescribed national curriculum and often call themselves National Plus Schools to convey that they provide additional resources and exceed the requirements mandated by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

These schools use English as the medium of instruction, and also have international curriculums. The number of primary schools in Indonesia is about 170,000, while those of junior-secondary and high schools are approximately 40,000 and 26,000 respectively. Of all the schools that are operational in Indonesia, 93% are run by the government. Among these, about 85% are under the supervision of the Ministry of Education and Culture, and the rest are supervised by the Ministry of Religious Affairs. The private schools constitute just 7% of the total number of schools in Indonesia. It has been observed that the rates of enrollment for primary, secondary and tertiary education in Indonesia are about 90%, 75%, and 25% respectively. During 2016, the country’s literacy rate was slightly higher than 95%.

Guide  to Indonesia – English Teaching Jobs

Indonesia is one of the fastest-growing job-markets where English teachers can find ample opportunities around the year. On the Mark TEFL can provide necessary information for relevant job vacancies in Indonesia. Common modes of the interview are telephonic conferences and e-mail communications. However, certain schools show a preference for in-person interviews. Although teachers have to bear the expenses for their air-travel and accommodation, some of the schools provide assistance to alleviate their financial burden. Most of the expatriate teachers live in the apartments that have been vacated by others. It is also common for groups of English teachers to share apartments.

As the salary standards are quite generous in the main cities of Indonesia, and the English teachers have to work for less than 30 hours per week, they can afford a considerably comfortable lifestyle. Additionally, they can also have sufficient time to explore the exquisite beauty of the vibrant Indonesia. It is advisable to have a four-year degree in English and TEFL certification in order to get preference as an English teacher in Indonesia. For expatriate English teachers in Indonesia, most of the job opportunities are in the important cities such as Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung. There are ample job opportunities in Bali too. However, the huge popularity of this island has made its job-market extremely competitive.

Guide to Indonesia – Cost of Living

Almost all the major cities in Indonesia are quite costly to live in. This is mainly because of their global significance as business and tourism destinations. We have compiled the information on the cost of living in Indonesia under three expense-groups. These are food, housing, and transportation.


Basic Lunch and a Drink

Rp 57,554

Combo Meal at a Fast Food Restaurant

Rp 45,673

Chicken Breast (Boneless)/ lb

Rp 25,848

Milk (Whole Fat)/ liter

Rp 18,501

Eggs/ dozen

Rp 24,309

Tomatoes/ kg

Rp 12,210

Local Cheese/ kg

Rp 59,632

Apples/ kg

Rp 34,843

Potatoes/ kg

Rp 17,526

Domestic Beer/ 16 oz

Rp 28,268


Monthly Rent for Furnished Accommodation

Rp 5,784,790 – Rp 11,480,900

Monthly Rent for Furnished Studio

Rp 3,635,870 – Rp 6,828,020

Utilities/ month

Rp 769,593 – Rp 1,396,190

Internet (8 Mbps)/ month

Rp 328,016


Gas/ liter

Rp 8,214

Monthly Ticket for Public Transport

Rp 261,268

Guide to Indonesia – Visa Process

Individuals who are interested in migrating to Indonesia for teaching English should be aware of the visa process that has to be completed. For immigrant English teachers, a Limited Stay Visa shall be necessary. This is a single-entry visa that is issued by the Indonesian government to foreign nationals who intend to stay in Indonesia for a variety of purposes such as study, research, sports, and much more. The visa can be extended upon arrival in Indonesia. The visa-holder can also obtain a temporary permit after arriving in Indonesia. If the visa-holder plans to exit, and subsequently re-enter Indonesia, he/ she has to obtain necessary permits from the Director General of Immigration. For the required documentation and other relevant information on the visa process, you may refer to the e-Consular Services of the Republic of Indonesia.

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