What do we mean by school entry age? Conceptual ambiguity and its implications: the example of Indonesia

Bilal Barakat, Stephanie Bengtsson

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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The age pattern of school entry reflects a complex social and
empirical reality that is inadequately captured by a single number.
Recognising these complexities in national and international
research and policy discourse raises important but neglected
questions around the identification of vulnerable groups, the
relative value of pre-primary and primary education, as well as the
normative powers and responsibilities of governments vis-à-vis
parents, and the international educational community vis-à-vis
both. This is illustrated by the example of Indonesia, where the
official age norm for primary school entry is widely disregarded in
practice, with a majority of children starting school one or even
two years earlier. Crucially, it is the compliant children entering at
the statutory age who tend to be from more disadvantaged
households, and enjoy no benefit in educational outcomes from
their greater maturity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-224
JournalComparative Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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