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Projects >  Indonesia >  School Improvement Grants Projects


School Improvement Grants Projects


In the early 2000s, the Government of Indonesia was executing a $28.8m World Bank managed Dutch Trust Fund School Improvement Grants Project (SIGP) that was providing grants to Indonesia’s poorest and most disadvantaged primary and junior secondary schools.  All types of schools were to benefit from the program (public and private, secular and religious) including schools that faced the additional burden of providing education services to refugee populations.

SIGP was to fund improvements to 4,036 primary and junior secondary schools in 17 Provinces.  The grants were to be spent on a variety of school improvements but the bulk of them were to be spent on improvements to existing school buildings plus provision of new or repairs to existing furniture and provision of new or repairs to existing water supplies and toilets.

Under the project, schools were to receive one-off grants and the selection of schools was to be made by the district committees that were to administer the SIGPs. Once the necessary preparatory procedures had been completed by the districts and the recipient schools, funds were to be sent direct to schools’ bank accounts through the banking system.

The renovation works were to be managed by the schools themselves with involvement from local communities.  In order to provide technical assistance to the schools and communities, central government was to contract regional consulting firms to provide the necessary supervision and advisory expertise to the schools, which would not have to pay any additional fees for these services.

The government was implementing the project through a central Project Management Unit (PMU) in Jakarta and the construction component was being monitored for the PMU by a National Construction Consultant (NCC). The British Council (BC) was monitoring the overall implementation of the project through a Central Independent Monitoring Unit (CIMU).

In June 2001 BC asked me to go on an initial mission to review and assess the government’s technical supervision arrangements and make, if necessary, revisions to the terms of reference of the consulting firms.  I was to conduct field visits to assess the understanding of the programme and the readiness of local stakeholders to carry out the school improvements and to review the CIMU’s plans for monitoring the civil works and propose revisions where necessary.  I was also to review the design of a proposed CIMU study of community-led school rehabilitation projects and propose any necessary changes.

After my mission I made a number of recommendations.  The first was that the PMU should consider hiring a small team of 4-6 architects and/or engineers to assist the NCC in monitoring the civil works programme as there was too much work for one individual.  I also recommended that: the civil works consultants’ terms of reference should be further defined and their scope of work clearly set out; contingency plans should be developed for dealing with possible over runs in the civil works programme and for making available additional funds for supervision; and detailed guidelines for civil works should be produced by the NCC in association with the civil works consultants that set out in detail what could and could not be funded under SIGP.

The CIMU’s monitoring team was to be composed of two consultants, based in Jakarta, who would monitor the work of 15 Regional Independent Monitors (RIMs, all architects or engineers) who would monitor the renovation work in the 17 Provinces.  I made recommendations for revising their monitoring instruments in my report.

With regard to the proposed study of community participation in grant-financed school rehabilitation, I suggested that, as there were other projects such as the Basic Education Projects, the Junior Education Projects and the Early Childhood Education Project that were renovating or constructing school facilities using participation, these should be included in the study.

During the mission, I made visits to schools in Sukabumi District in West Java Province and Pandeglang District in Banten Province that had been selected for SIGP together some schools and kindergartens being constructed under the West Java Basic Education Project and the Early Childhood Development Project. Full details of all of these proposals and site visits are given in the July 2001 Report.

I returned to Indonesia in November 2001 (this was to be the first of two visits, the second to take place in early 2002) to assess the quality of school rehabilitation taking place under SIGP and to assess the value of the technical supervision being provided by the GOI financed civil works consultant companies. 

I visited Kabupaten Ponogoro in East Java and Kabupaten Sampang in West Java to visit schools that were being renovated using SIGP funds.

The quality of the renovation ranged from adequate to very good but it compared favourably with the renovation work at primary schools that was usually undertaken by PUK (local Ministry of Works).  Where the schools had been free to implement the work themselves and had done so effectively, this had generated feelings of pride and achievement in the work carried out and a greater feeling of ownership of the school facilities that must be beneficial to the school, the pupils and the community.

There had however been problems with the technical supervision.  In Kabupaten Ponorogo there had been a serious lack of supervision at most schools and the consultants had not prepared any detailed drawings of the renovation work to be carried out and at nearly all schools visited, the lack of supervision and assistance was commented on.  The consultants in Kabupaten Sampang had taken their responsibilities more seriously and the schools were more pleased with the assistance that they had given.

One problem commented upon in the CIMU report on the performance of the consultants was that none of the Construction Supervisors interviewed had the 6 years’ experience asked for in their terms of reference, 28% had no experience at all and 39% had only graduated from senior high school and did not have the required diploma.  It was probable that most of the problems commented on at the sites were caused by the lack of experience of the Construction Supervisors.  Presumably the civil works consultants had been trying to save money by employing inexperienced supervisors who could be paid less than experienced ones.

The PMU was supposed to ensure that the consultants performed according to their terms of reference but this did not appear to have happened.   It was very important that, if schools and communities were to undertake the renovation of school facilities, they received adequate technical assistance particularly in preparing their proposals and in supervising and managing the construction.  At the schools where this had happened, both schools and communities had found this to be very useful.

For further details of my visit, the problems found on the sites and my recommendations for action, see my December 2001 Report.  After my visit I prepared draft proposals for a study of community-led or school rehabilitation projects in West Java and other provinces.  See my January 2002 Report.

I went back in February/March 2002 and my task this time was to finalise my proposals for a comparative study of school and community-led school rehabilitation programmes whether funded by donors or by the government.  I finalised the survey instruments to be used by the CIMU engineers during their school visits and I also made further visits to schools being renovated by the SIGP programme.

The objectives of the study were to assess: the role and effectiveness of school staff and community members in any renovation or construction work; the effectiveness and cost of any technical assistance; the quality of the completed renovations and to compare the quality of work produced by the various methods.

For further details of my visit and of the study of school and community-led school rehabilitation programmes, see my March 2002 Report.

In May 2002, the CIMU staff had completed their study of 68 schools and kindergartens where rehabilitation or construction had taken place.  These included 30 schools rehabilitated by SIGP; 9 schools constructed by the West Java Basic Education Project; 8 schools constructed by the Junior Secondary Education Project 11 kindergartens constructed by the Early Childhood Education Project and for comparison purposes, 10 schools constructed by contractors and funded by local government. 

The main findings of the study were as follows:

  • Where communities and schools had been free to implement the renovation work themselves and had done so effectively, the study found that this had generated feelings of pride and achievement in the work carried out and a degree of ownership of the facilities which was beneficial to the school, the pupils and the community and was an important reason for making schools and communities responsible for the rehabilitation work.

  • The work carried out at most schools by school committees or communities was seen to be at least as good as that carried out by contractors.  Equally importantly all the communities interviewed were very satisfied with the result of the renovations and with the quality of the work compared to that carried out by contractors.  The communities also thought that the work compared favourably in terms of value for money compared to that carried out by contractors.

  • Most communities understood what their role was to be in the process and most significantly all communities at the schools studied stated that they wanted to be involved in similar school rehabilitation projects in the future.  The community participation aspect of all the projects studied could have probably therefore be seen as a success.


For details of my report and the initial findings of the study see my May 2002 Report.

A Study of School and Community-Led School Renovation Projects sets out in full the results of the study and using these results I produced a Practical Guide to School Rehabilitation Using Communities which was aimed at donors contemplating using communities for managing school construction or renovation projects in Indonesia although it is also relevant to similar projects in other countries. 

The SIGP project was extended and further school renovations were carried out under SIGP2 which provided one-off grants to 2,875 poor schools in 60 districts. It was again anticipated that schools would spend most of their grants on the rehabilitation of physical facilities and as in SIGP 1, all civil works were to be managed by the school committees. 

I returned to Indonesia in February 2003 to plan a study of the construction advisory services which were seen to be essential to the successful implementation of community-managed school renovation and construction projects.

Advisory services were being provided by consultancy firms in each of the ten regions of the project and the firms were to provide: a management structure that provided for the supervision, training and quality assurance of the staff employed; sufficient numbers of appropriately qualified staff; adequate reporting mechanisms; administrative structures that would ensure that the contracts were complied with, that reports were delivered on time and that staff received their salaries and allowances on time so that services were not disrupted.

Each consultancy firm was to provide: School Construction Advisors (SCAs) to advise between five and ten School Committees throughout all stages of the work; Consultant Co-ordinators (CCs) to supervise the work of around ten SCAs; and a Project Team Leader (PTL) to be based in the region covered by the contract.

The study was to be carried out by CIMU technical staff and the purpose of the study was to assess the quality of service and value for money provided by the construction advisory firms.  See my February 2003 Report for details of the proposed study.

As part of the study, I returned in June 2003 and visited schools that were being renovated under SIGP2 in two provinces and wrote an interim assessment of the services being provided by the firms of consultants and of the quality of the renovation and construction work being carried out in the two districts.

The report identified a number of serious issues that concerned both the way the consulting firms and their staff were administering the project and the quality of the actual renovations.  It also made various recommendations for follow up actions to be taken by the Project Management Unit.  For details see my June 2003 Report.

The consultant study was eventually completed in January 2004 and the main conclusions drawn from the study were:

  • The construction and/or renovation of schools using school committees or communities to manage the work was a fairly new concept in Indonesia and all parties involved in the process; the schools and communities, the consultants providing technical assistance (if used), the project staff, government officials and donors, were having to learn that these types of projects require a different approach and different skills to the traditional sort of school building project that uses contractors to carry out the construction work.

  • School committees and communities have to learn how to manage and supervise the construction and civil works consultants, if they are used, have to learn that their ‘clients’, the school committees or communities, do not only require the supervision that a contractor needs but also require assistance with defining the work that needs carrying out, in estimating how much materials and labour are required and how much they will cost, in ordering materials, in employing labour as well as in managing and supervising the work.

  • Unfortunately, it seemed that very few if any civil works consultants then had much experience of working on these kinds of projects and of providing appropriate technical assistance to school committees and communities and the performance of the civil works consultants in SIGP2 had to be seen in the light of this.

  • The consultants’ performance had also to be judged against the constraints of their contracts.  Government contracts were invariably lump-sum, unit-cost contracts which were not really suitable for school or community-based projects which due their very nature invariably over-ran and required a great degree of flexibility and it was felt that the government should  devise more flexible forms of contract.

  • The PMU also suffered from this rigidity of government practice which did not allow it any flexibility in dealing with the problems caused by the late appointment of consultants and the over-run in completing many of the schools.

  • The performance of the consulting firms had however to be judged against the contracts that they had signed and the terms of reference contained in those contracts and it was concluded that even in these terms they did not perform very well.

  • The majority of the school renovations seemed to have been carried out to a standard equal to or in many cases better than if carried out by a contractor and also in many cases at a lower or no higher cost than if carried out by a contractor.  This seemed however to have been due to the abilities of the local craftsmen and foremen rather than those of the consultants.


Full details of the study can be seen at SIGP2: Study of the School Construction Advisory Services.  After completing the study, I asked by BC to prepare some manuals to assist schools and communities in the construction, renovation and maintenance of primary schools and these can be seen at A Manual for the Use of Schools and Communities in the Construction of Primary Schools; A Manual for the Use of Schools and Communities in the Renovation of Primary Schools and A Manual for the Use of Schools and Communities in the Maintenance of Primary Schools.  These manuals were translated into Bahasa Indonesia and illustrated by a young and very talented Indonesian architect and illustrator.  I had left spaces for the illustrations and sent him rough sketches of the illustrations that I felt should be provided in each space and each section.  Unfortunately I never received copies of the completed construction and renovation manuals but the translated and illustrated maintenance manual (Manual Pemeliharan Gedung Sekolah) can be seen in the Resources/Building Maintenance section of this web-site.

The photo gallery below shows some of the school buildings renovated under the project.

Project Gallery

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