Child workers and inclusive education in Indonesia



Child work, inclusive education, student learning, Indonesian education


Since Indonesia’s transition to democracy in 1998, wealth inequality has increased significantly with a dramatic rise in the wealth of the rich and stagnating income growth among poorer citizens. Similar to many developing countries, the issue of child workers in Indonesia is a critical problem. The 2015 National Labour Force Survey recorded 1.65 million children aged 15–17 involved in child work in Indonesia. Efforts to encourage the participation of child workers in schooling has been greatly promoted but few studies have investigated the issue of the impact of child work on student learning outcomes. Children involved in work are likely to be left behind in educational achievement. Their disadvantaged social, cultural, and economic backgrounds lead to physical and psychosocial vulnerabilities, which requires democratic-classroom approaches, characterized by child-centred settings and teachers familiar with students’ diverse learning abilities. This paper presents findings from a study investigating Indonesian teachers’ perspectives on the impacts of work on student learning outcomes and how they implement diverse teaching and learning styles when educating child workers. This study highlighted the lack of school and teacher readiness in managing child workers’ diverse needs and the absence of teachers’ involvement in developing policies for child worker education that may all lead to child workers not achieving learning outcomes. This study outcomes also support democratic-style classroom approaches in making education a reliable investment for child workers. This study provides recommendations for improved policies and practices for the local government and schools in the East Nusa Tenggara province.

Author Biographies

Robertus Raga Djone, LIFT Foundation


Robertus Raga Djone has been working in educational organisations in Indonesia since 2003 mostly in teachers capacity development programs. During his career, Robertus has extensive experience in coordinating and monitoring education projects from Save the Children, UNICEF and ChildFund, including Outreach Project, Creating Learning Communities for Children (CLCC) and Building Sustainable Quality Change in Primary Education all of which were based in West Timor, Indonesia. Currently, Robertus manages BRIDGE project in Indonesia implemented by the Asia Education Foundation and funded by the Australian government. 




Anne Suryani, Centre for Vocational and Educational Policy, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne

Anne is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Vocational and Educational Policy, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne. She holds a PhD in Educational Psychology from Monash University and was awarded a Mollie Holman Medal for her thesis. Anne has been working in a number of educational projects in Australia and Indonesia focusing on teacher motivation, teacher education, vocational education, assessment and curriculum. She has received a number of awards, scholarships and grants from international institutions for her research, publications, and professional developments.






Vol 18 (1) Riddle Special Edition