Honorary Teachers’ Problem: Between Dedication and Lack of Appreciation

To deal with the shortage of teachers, local governments and schools often recruit honorary teachers. However, most of them are underpaid and far from the conditions envisioned by Law no. 14 of 2005 concerning Teachers and Lecturers.

honorary teacher
Illustration. Nawardi, an honorary teacher at a school in Kalimantan. (ACTNews)

ACTNews, JAKARTA – Teaching is one of the oldest occupations, as humans began teaching since they were able to think and discern various sciences. Throughout history, teachers have held an important position in various civilizations. 

According to the Rector of the Universitas Negeri Surabaya 2014-2018 Warsono in his writing entitled Guru: Antara Profesi, Pendidik, dan Aktor Sosial (Teacher: Between Professions, Educators, and Social Actors) in The Journal of Society & Media 2017 Vol 1, being teacher means having double status namely professionals and educators.

In Indonesia, teachers as a profession have been officially recognized since the enactment of Law of the Republic of Indonesia Number 20 of 2003 concerning the National Education System Article 39 1 and 2 and Law Number 14 of 2005 concerning Teachers and Lecturers. Teachers have an additional status as a professional, not just educators. In Article 1 paragraph 1 of Law No. 14 of 2005, it is explained that teachers are professional educators with the main task of educating, teaching, guiding, directing, training, assessing, and evaluating students in early childhood education schools, primary, and secondary schools.

Employment statuses of teachers in Indonesia

Teachers in Indonesia are of various employment statuses. According to the dashboard of Teachers and Educational Personnel of the Ministry of Education and Culture, the employment status of teachers is divided into several groups, namely Civil Servant Teachers (PNS), Permanent Teachers of Educational Foundation (GTY), Non-Permanent Teachers (GTT) in Provinces and Regencies/Cities, Assisting Teachers from Central Government, and Honorary School Teachers.

PNS are permanent teachers with the status of civil servants; GTY are permanent teachers appointed by educational foundations; GTT are non-permanent teachers who are paid by the provincial or regency/municipal government, Assisting Teachers are honorary teaching staff sent by the Ministry of Education and Culture, and Honorary Teachers are teachers who teach in private schools and are paid by the school where they teach.

Why are honorary teachers employed? Chairman of the Indonesian Teachers Association (IGI) Muhammad Ramli Rahim said that honorary teachers are a solution to the shortage of teachers in Indonesia. According to Ramli, the Indonesian education system will be paralyzed without honorary teaching staff.

Ramli added that honorary teachers are very much needed by the local governments when the central government does nothing to deal with the lack of teachers. To meet the need for teachers, local governments or schools recruit teachers independently.

“You can imagine what would happen to our education system if the local government and school principals did not save our education by recruiting temporary teachers to replace retired civil servants or teachers who are appointed as principals and are not given the obligation to teach anymore, or teachers who are appointed as school supervisors and regional officials in the government," said Ramli.

Mukminah, one of the honorary teachers with a master's degree who teaches at a private Islamic school in West Manggarai. Photo taken in August 2019. (CTNews/Gina Mardani)

A lecturer at the Faculty of Education at Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia (UPI) Suryadi in the introduction to his article published in the Journal of Educational Administration Vol. IIl, October 2, 2005 said that every year, the shortage of teachers has always been a prevalent problem in the Indonesian education system. Due to budget constraints, the government overcame this problem by hiring non-permanent teachers.

The problem of teacher shortages is predicted to continue until 2024. The Ministry of Education and Culture (Kemendikbud) predicts that schools in Indonesia lack 1 million teachers every year during the 2020-2024 period. The figure is estimated to continue to increase over the years.

"Because of the opening of new schools, the addition of new classrooms and the growing number of retiring teachers every year are not accompanied with new recruitments of Civil Servant Candidates (CPNS)," explained the Ministry of Education and Culture’s Director of Professional Education and Development of Teachers and Educational Personnel Praptono.

Deprivation due to underpayment

Former Minister of Education and Culture Muhadjir Effendy explained that the honorary teachers are not tied to any institution other than the schools hiring them. For this reason, they don’t earn as many benefits as teachers who are civil servants.

"The salary is small because it depends on the school’s own funds. Usually, the school pays honorary teachers using the School Operational Assistance (BOS) fund," said Muhadjir.

In fact, in Law no. 14 of 2005 Article 14 paragraph 1 explains that in carrying out professional duties, teachers are entitled to earn income above the minimum living needs and social welfare insurance, get promotions and awards, obtain protection, can improve competence, and others.

Article 40 paragraph 1 letter A of Law no. 20 of 2003 concerning the National Education System, it is stated that one of the rights of teachers (educators) is to obtain appropriate and adequate income and social welfare insurance.

But in reality, many honorary teachers live in poverty. In Sukabumi, one of the honorary teachers who has served for 30 years only gets a salary of IDR 500 thousand per month. In Bogor, a teacher has to work as a stone crusher to earn extra income. In East Nusa Tenggara’s Manggarai, teachers have to travel long distances to get to school.

According to data from the Ministry of Education and Culture's Teacher and Educating Personnel Dashboard, accessed by ACTNews on September 17, 2021 at 14:37 Western Indonesia Time, there are 7,453 honorary school teachers or 13.9 percent of the teachers in Indonesia, 3,830 Non-Permanent Teachers that constitute 6.7 percent of total teachers, 26,433 Civil Servant teachers that make up 49.2 percent of total teachers, and 9,667 Permanent Teachers of Educational Foundations that make up 18 percent of Indonesian Teachers.

Honorary teachers receive sponsorship from Global Zakat - ACT. (ACTNews)

Support for honorary teachers

Meanwhile, Sutaryo from the Global Zakat-ACT explained that Global Zakat-ACT as a professional humanitarian institution has contributed to supporting and showing appreciation for honorary teachers in the country. Through the Sahabat Guru Indonesia program, assistance in the form of financial aid staple food packages is provided throughout the year to honorary teachers who have dedicated themselves.

“Honorary teachers in urban and rural areas of the country have benefited from this program. Their dedication to teaching is unquestionable, but they don’t receive the appreciation that they deserve," he said, Friday (17/9/2021).

Sutaryo explained that to support honorary teachers, consistent efforts are needed in the long term. He realizes that Global Zakat-ACT cannot do it alone. In fact, the efforts to support teachers that are currently being carried out by Global Zakat-ACT are something of national importance because supporting the work of teachers is not just supporting one person but also advancing the nation's civilization.

“But right now, there seems to be no choice for honorary teachers. Whether they like it or not, they are forced to accept the situation of having to dedicate themselves fully without enough appreciation,” concluded Sutaryo.[]